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As European rugby’s stakeholders today (Thursday, 10 April) confirm an agreement for a new phase in the development of the European club rugby tournaments, ERC Chief Executive, Derek McGrath, has confirmed that he will stand down from his role in October 2014.

After leading the significant growth and development of the European club rugby tournaments for 14 years, Derek has decided to explore new challenges and will not move to the new organisation being established.

At the request of the Board of ERC, he has agreed to stay on until October 2014 to manage the transition from the current organisation to the new structures envisaged for the start of the new European season.

Derek was appointed as Chief Executive of European Rugby Cup Ltd (ERC) in 2000, when the company was established as a new and distinct entity separate from the Six Nations. He has overseen the spectacular growth and development of both European club rugby tournaments, with the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup growing in profile and stature to be recognised as among the world’s premier sporting events.

Under his stewardship the commercial return from the European club rugby tournaments was transformed with ERC’s annual revenues growing from €14M million per annum in 1999 to €54 million in 2014. The growth in popularity of the Heineken Cup, in particular, is underlined by the now more than 1 million supporters who attend games each season and by the development of the ERC Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend as one of the showpiece occasions in world rugby.

Commenting on his decision Derek McGrath said; “I have relished the challenge of developing the European competitions and have witnessed many great occasions over the 14 years that I have held the role. It has been a very great pleasure to lead ERC during this period of tremendous development of the events, which have sculpted an indelible mark on the rugby and sporting landscape.

“I take particular pride in the public interest the tournaments now receive in all participating countries and beyond and I am sure the growth and interest will continue.

“The journey could not have been a success without the tremendous support of ERC’s broadcasting and commercial partners who have, through their support, been the bed-rock on which the tournaments have been built.

“I have been privileged to lead a remarkable and talented group of staff at ERC, who should be very proud of how they have each contributed to the success of the competitions”.

Derek qualified and practiced as a veterinary surgeon, has also headed up an animal health pharmaceutical company and is a former Ireland rugby international player.