Six Nations begins search for Feehan successor
The organisers of rugby union’s Six Nations Championship have begun the search for a chief executive to replace John Feehan, who has stepped down after 16 years in the post.
Six Nations Ltd has tasked headhunters Odgers Berndtson with leading the recruitment process, and said it is looking for an individual "with the commercial acumen, leadership and drive to ensure that the Six Nations brand continues to grow and prosper both domestically and throughout the world."
According to the job spec, available here, the successful candidate must have, among other credentials:
- senior experience, ideally as a chief executive or managing director, in a sport-related organisation and thus understand the business and politics of sport;
- a track record of long-term growth and success on an international basis;
- high-level and proven experience of complex commercial and broadcasting/digital/OTT arrangements, ideally in relation to a sports rights holding organisation;
- significant experience in business development and the building of successful commercial and financial relationships with third party partners;
- proven negotiating skills in both commercial and financial transactions; and
- deep knowledge and current understanding of the power of an integrated digital strategy.
RBS had been the main partner of the Six Nations since 2004, and was set to walk away after last year’s competition, but was persuaded to return to the negotiating table after organisers were unable to attract a new long-term sponsor.
Prior to the 2017 Six Nations, it emerged that a six-year deal worth £100 million ($140 million) was the target but, despite employing agency CAA Sports and holding talks with over 150 companies, the organisers were unable to tie down a replacement for RBS.
Feehan, who was also chief executive of the British & Irish Lions, announced his exit last month, noting: "I feel it is time for a change. I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute working in both roles however the timing is now right for me and I am ready to pursue other interests.
"I depart safe in the knowledge that both organisations are in a significantly better place than when I started, and indeed both have a very bright future ahead. I would like to acknowledge the fantastic people I have worked with over the years and look forward to watching rugby as a passionate supporter for many years to come."
He has overseen unprecedented growth of the Six Nations Championship and has also presided over four Lions Tours, most recently to New Zealand last year.
The Six Nations now draws 125 million television viewers per year in the competing nations thanks in large part to free-to-air rights deals in the UK, Ireland and France, and is now shown in 180 countries worldwide. In addition, social media audiences exceed 1.6 million.
The Lions will next tour in 2021, in South Africa.