RWC 2021 Organising Committee and Tournament Director Announced

The Rugby World Cup New Zealand 2021 (RWC 2021) Organising Committee has been appointed by the New Zealand Rugby (NZR) Board and the members are: Dame Julie Christie (Chair), Brent Impey (NZR), Dr Farah Palmer (NZR), Shaun Nixon (NZR), Steve Armitage (ATEED), Sandra Boardman (Whangarei District Council), Wendy Thompson (Independent) and Nicola O’Rourke (Independent).

RWC 2021 Organising Committee Chair, Julie Christie said: “The RWC 2021 is the first time the tournament will be held in the Southern Hemisphere and we are both committed and excited to be hosting this elite women’s tournament in New Zealand to provide the platform for World Rugby to take the women’s game to the next level.

“The role of the Organising Committee is to provide governance and strategic oversight of RWC 2021 for the New Zealand Rugby Board.”

The RWC 2021 Organising Committee and NZR have appointed Michelle Hooper as Tournament Director, starting from January 2020.

NZR Chief of Rugby, Nigel Cass said: “It is with pleasure that we announce the appointment of the Tournament Director, Michelle Hooper. She has a long and successful track record in delivering world class events so we are delighted that Michelle will be joining us to lead this significant event for both New Zealand and rugby globally.”

RWC 2021 Tournament Director, Michelle Hooper said: “I am honoured to be appointed, and to have the opportunity to work with the Organising Committee, World Rugby, NZR and the New Zealand Government which has fully supported the bid to deliver a world-class event with sustainable economic returns for these stakeholders. We have an exciting new opportunity to showcase women's rugby on the global stage right here in New Zealand and to add a bit of 'kiwi magic' to the game globally and I am looking forward to leading the team to bring this vision to life.”

This is the first time that the RWC – featuring the world’s best in women’s rugby - will be hosted in the Southern Hemisphere and the host cities will be Whangarei and Auckland.

The hosting of RWC 2021 supports and aligns with the Government Strategy for Women and Girls and Active Recreation, an integral event to the big three years of activity focusing on global events for women and sport. This includes RWC 2021, the 2021 ICC Women’s World Cup and the International Women and Sport Conference 2022.

The central and local government strongly support the bid, with investment secured through the government’s Major Events Fund, Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED), on behalf of Auckland Council, and Whangarei District Council.

The RWC 2021 will officially launch on 4 February 2020.



Dame Julie Christie (Chair)

Dame Julie Christie served on the Board of Rugby World Cup NZ 2011 and is currently Chair of the All Blacks Experience.  She has previously served on the Board of New Zealand Trade & Enterprise and Mediaworks and is a Trustee of Development West Coast, as well as sitting on the Advisory Board of The New Zealand Story and on the New Zealand Steering Group for World Expo Dubai 2020.  A former international television producer, Julie was made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to Governance and the Television Industry in 2017.

Brent Impey

Brent Impey was appointed to the New Zealand Rugby Board in 2012. He has both played and coached rugby and was closely involved in many broadcast and sponsorship issues as Chief Executive of Mediaworks from 1999-2009. He was also involved in the 2011 NZRU review of Investec Super Rugby franchises. He holds a number of directorships, including Yellow Pages Group and Devon Funds Management Limited. He has been Chair and Executive Director of the Fred Hollows Foundation in New Zealand and is a director in both New Zealand and Australia. He operates his own consultancy business with clients including Ports of Auckland and government agencies.

Dr Farah Palmer

Dr Farah Palmer (ONZM) was elected to the Board in December 2016. The former Black Fern (35 Tests, 1996-2006) captained the team to three consecutive Rugby World Cups, was inducted to the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2014 and has served on the New Zealand Māori Rugby Board, which she currently Chairs, since 2007. Palmer is a senior lecturer in Massey University's School of Management and Director of the University's Māori Business & Leadership Centre (Te Au Rangahau).

Shaun Nixon

Shaun Nixon was elected to the New Zealand Rugby Board in 2019. His previous rugby experience includes roles as Chair of North Harbour Rugby Union (2015-2019) and as a Director of the Blues (2017-2019).  He has also chaired North Harbour Rugby Audit and Risk Committees and the Commercial Committees from (2012 to 2015) and prior to his New Zealand Rugby appointment was Chair of Audit and Risk and Commercial Committees for the Blues. Shaun is an entrepreneur and a qualified Chartered Accountant with over 30 years’ experience.  He is a founding partner of Nixon Cate Chartered Accountants and is also owner of Total Storage Limited which is a nationwide self-storage company.

Steve Armitage

Steve Armitage joined Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), the region’s economic growth agency, in 2013 following political advisory roles in the private sector, and central and local government.

As ATEED’s General Manager – Destination, he oversees portfolios in tourism marketing, major events, business events, international education and destination management.

Steve was instrumental in the creation of the Destination AKL 2025 strategy document, which sets a new direction for the development of Auckland as a leading global destination for domestic and international travelers while at the same time enhancing it as the place to live, work and do business.

Steve is also taking a lead role in Auckland’s preparations for 2021; a year when the region will host a succession of world-class events, including the 36th America’s Cup and APEC Leaders Week.

Steve has a Masters of Arts (Hons) in political science from the University of Auckland.

Sandra Boardman

Sandra Boardman is the General Manager Community at Whangarei District Council. Her portfolio of responsibilities includes the Venues and Events team who run the Semenoff Stadium. Prior to this Sandra had a 34 year career in the health sector, initially as a hospital pharmacist and then as a manager in both the UK and New Zealand. This included executive roles at both Taranaki and Southern District Health Boards. Sandra has an MBA from Durham University and is a member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors.

Wendy Thompson

Wendy Thompson is an experienced global marketer and entrepreneur, 2019 Australasian Social Media Marketer of the Year and finalist 2018 Next Women of the Year. She founded Socialites in 2010, a specialist social media marketing company that works with top New Zealand and global brands around the world. Socialites has won many business and global creative awards including Australasian Agency of the Year, Deloitte Fast 50 and Asia-Pacific Tech 500. She was Westpac Business Awards lead marketing judge 2014-2018, board member of the Well Foundation 2015-2017 and Comms Council Committee 2016.  She is currently a board member of Entrepreneurs Organisation (EO). Passionate about building a better NZ society, she is in demand as a speaker on digital marketing and entrepreneurship.

Nicola O’Rourke

Nicola is a passionate marketer and sports fan. She has had 15 years Marketing experience in FMCG across a range of disciplines, including including Marketing, Sales, New Product Development and Operations. Throughout her career, she has launched over 80 products into the Australasian market and overseen the capital investment in manufacturing expansion of several New Zealand businesses to facilitate export growth.  Nicola is known for her pride and passion for New Zealand and the New Zealand Food & Beverage industry.  She enjoys supporting NZ businesses to differentiate their quality stories to find unique ways positioning brands to deliver value. 

Along with her Lewis Road role, Nicola is Chair of the New Zealand Food Basket, a collaboration of 16 of NZ’s top Food & Beverage businesses working together to access export markets.  Nicola is very passionate about brand New Zealand, especially where there is the opportunity to differentiate and deliver value both at home and abroad.  

Michelle Hooper

Michelle has extensive Major Event Delivery experience with over 20 years working in high performance sport. This has included; leading the Team Services planning for the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan, as a Match Commissioner at Twickenham Stadium for World Rugby at Rugby World Cup 2015, leading the Team Services planning for Rugby World Cup 2011, Competition Director for the FIFA U20 World Cup, International Triathlon World Series Events and International Triathlon World Grand Final as well as Auckland Rugby and the Blues Super Rugby Franchise and Emirates Team New Zealand. Michelle is also the founder of the Sprintify framework for goal attainment and is the Director of Sprintify.

Michelle specialises in creating high-performance environments that enable athletes to excel and building and leading high-performance teams to deliver major event objectives.