London - John Feehan has stepped down from his positions as chief executive of both the Six Nations Championship and the British and Irish Lions with immediate effect, it was announced on Friday.
Feehan was in post for 16 years, overseeing commercial growth in what is arguably rugby union's premier annual international tournament as well as four Lions tours, including last year's thrilling drawn series with world champions New Zealand.
A process to appoint his successor is set to begin shortly, with Clive Woodward - a former Lions player and coach - and Ian Ritchie, once the chief executive of England's governing Rugby Football Union, among those touted for the role.
"I feel it is time for a change. I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute working in both roles, but the timing is right for me and I'm ready to pursue other interests," Feehan said in a statement.
"I depart safe in the knowledge that both organisations are in a significantly better place than when I started and both have a very bright future ahead."