Leading entrepreneurs Mervyn Davies and Wendy Luhabe have been appointed as the first independent directors of the new World Rugby Executive Committee, the organisation have announced today.

Wales-born Davies spent more than 20 years working in the banking sector, including as chairman and chief executive of Standard Chartered plc, before serving as a Minister of State within the British Government covering Trade, Investment, Small Business and Infrastructure until 2010.

The 63-year-old, no relation of the Welsh rugby union legend of the same name, was made a member of the House of Lords in 2009.

Luhabe, a major icon for black women in South Africa, has more than 26 years of experience as a non-executive director in a variety of industries including consumer, telecommunications, industrial development, private equity, country brand development and education.

The 58-year-old is chair and founder of the Women Private Equity Fund, South Africa's first private equity fund for women.

Both were included on the 12-person panel following an "extensive global appointment process led by an independent nominations committee chaired by Peter Sutherland, a former European Commissioner and former Attorney General of Ireland.

They will join the likes of England's new World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont, Argentina's vice-chairman Agustín Pichot and Australia's chief executive Brett Gosper.

Also serving are Scotland's John Jeffrey, Australia's Brett Robinson, France's Pierre Camou, United States' Bob Latham, New Zealand's Mark Robinson and Ireland's Pat Whelan.

"World Rugby is delighted to be welcoming Wendy Luhabe and Mervyn Davies onto the newly-appointed Executive Committee," said outgoing chairman Bernard Lapasset.

"Both bring with them a wealth of major international corporate experience and will significantly contribute to and enhance what will be an even more agile Executive Committee.

"These robust reforms, coupled with the impending launch of a revised strategic plan, and World Rugby's vibrant and inclusive new brand, reflect our commitment to further the sport's reach and engage and inspire new participants.”

The appointments are "central to a new governance model that sees the composition and remit of World Rugby's Executive Committee extended to deliver an even more modern, dynamic and streamlined governance structure", a statement proclaimed.

It will also ensure the Executive Committee benefits from an independent voice through the addition of the experienced and highly-skilled independent directors.

All World Rugby standing committees and advisory groups are to report to the Executive Committee, while a new dedicated Nominations Committee will be introduced to make recommendations to the Executive Committee regarding persons to be considered for membership of any World Rugby Committee or Working Group.

A "dynamic and streamlined" environment will allow the Executive Committee to address any urgent decisions between Council meetings - including over the Laws and Regulations of the game.

"These are exciting and important times for World Rugby and rugby generally," added Beaumont.

"I would like to congratulate the newly-elected Executive Committee members and welcome our first independent directors.

"I look forward to chairing this important group and collaborating with my new colleagues on this dynamic and agile decision-making body to strengthen and advance the game."

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