John O'Neill has stepped down as a director of Rugby World Cup Ltd, the wholly-owned subsidiary of the International Rugby Board, rugby union’s world governing body, citing personal reasons.
The IRB said the Australian's departure was effective immediately, and that plans to replace him will be discussed at an executive committee meeting next month.
O'Neill, a former managing director and chief executive of the Australian Rugby Union, became a Rugby World Cup director in March 2012, at the same time as David Pickering, chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union, and was due to serve a four-year term including the 2015 tournament in England.
Bernard Lapasset, chairman of the IRB and of the Rugby World Cup board, said O'Neill's resignation was "reluctantly accepted."
He added: "The board would like to thank John for his exceptional contribution and his tireless dedication to strengthening the Rugby World Cup brand, profile and profitability for the benefit of the global game. There is no doubt that his vision, energy, expertise and leadership has been instrumental in delivering the strong foundations for what promises to be hugely successful Rugby World Cups in England and Japan [in 2019], while driving forward a review of future delivery of our flagship event."
O'Neill quit the ARU in October 2012, a year earlier than scheduled. He spent 14 years running the organisation, initially from 1995 to 2004, and then again from 2007, in between which he worked for Football Federation Australia, the national governing body for soccer.