Rugby Football Union (RFU) chief executive Ian Ritchie has confirmed that he will step down from his role at the end of summer.
The 63-year-old joined the board in 2012 and has played a pivotal role in England hosting the 2015 World Cup while he also successfully negotiated the Professional Game Agreement with Premiership Rugby Limited worth over £200million to Premiership clubs over the next eight years.
Ritchie was also the man behind the appointment of Eddie Jones as the head coach of England following the exclusion of Stuart Lancaster and during his stint the red rose team went on to win back-to-back Six Nations title in 2016 and 2017 while also registering 18 consecutive wins including a maiden 3-0 series victory in Australia and an undefeated autumn international campaign.
Thanking the board for the support he had received throughout his tenure, Ritchie confirmed the news on his retirement.
"It has been an honour and a privilege to lead the RFU. I'm proud to have been part of the rugby family, working with so many talented, passionate and committed teams at every level of the game and of the Union.
"Rugby is a special sport, and one which is very hard to leave, but after a 40-year career and seven CEO roles, I will retire at the end of the summer with a lifetime of memories, many of which have rugby at heart.
"I would like to thank Andy Cosslett, the board, and everyone at the RFU for their support."
RFU chairman Andy Cosslett lavished praise on Ritchie and confirmed that a new chief executive will be appointed by the board at the end of summer.
"Ian has been an outstanding CEO.
"He has led the RFU through a period of sustained growth and success, built a terrific management team of executives and coaches, and kept the values of rugby at the heart of his leadership style.
"On behalf of the board of the RFU, I would like to thank him for his significant and lasting contribution to English rugby."
Ritchie is also a member of World Rugby Council, board member of British and Irish Lions and also the Six Nations board. He is also the chairman of Team GB Sevens, whose men's side won the Silver medal in the Rio Olympics.