World Rugby has announced the appointment of Dan Payne as Chief Executive Officer of Rugby Americas.

Under the presidency of Agustín Pichot, Rugby Americas, which comprises representatives of World Rugby regional associations Rugby Americas North and Sudamérica Rugby, is the driving force behind the advancement of elite cross-regional competitions, and it coordinates continental development initiatives to ensure the two regions achieve optimal outcomes working together.

Payne joins World Rugby with a wealth of experience in sports administration, most recently having presided over strong participation, development and commercial growth during three years as USA Rugby Chief Executive Officer.

The appointment comes at a time when rugby in the Americas is experiencing record growth and reflects World Rugby’s strategic mission to accelerate participation, commercial and fan growth across North and South America – home to more than 2.3 million players, affiliated to World Rugby via 23 national unions.

Payne will be the senior World Rugby employee in the Americas, having primary responsibility for the growth of the game, working in partnership with the regional associations to strengthen professional and domestic competitions, further the reach of development programmes and convert new commercial opportunities.

World Rugby Vice-Chairman and Rugby Americas President Pichot said: “We are delighted to appoint Dan Payne as Chief Executive Officer of Rugby Americas. These are exciting times for the growth of the sport, and Dan’s knowledge and expertise of rugby in the Americas, proven-track record with USA Rugby and passion for the development of the game, make him perfectly suited for this important role.”

World Rugby Chief Executive Officer Brett Gosper added: “Dan will enable us to further strengthen our strategic activities in partnership with Rugby Americas North and Sudamérica Rugby to assist our unions in growing and sustaining a thriving game for all across the Americas.”

Payne will start his new role after Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 in San Francisco and follows in the footsteps of Tom Jones, who is retiring as World Rugby Regional General Manager for the Americas after 36 years of stellar service to the North America and global game, having transformed governance, development and competition structures in the region.

Gosper added: “Tom has been an incredible servant to the game and on behalf of World Rugby, Rugby Americas, Rugby Americas North and all the unions in the region, I would like to express my thanks for his service and his achievements. It is no coincidence that during his 16 years with World Rugby participation in the region boomed, our unions grew stronger and our competitions thrived. He is a big man with a big rugby heart and will be missed by everyone who worked with him and I would like to wish Tom and his family all the best as he begins a new chapter in his life.”