Oberholzer will take up the role immediately and remain in place until permanent appointments are made following a business restructure on the completion of a planned private equity investment.

Oberholzer, 62, previously held the role between 1996 and 2003. He was tournament director of the 1995 Rugby World Cup, was the first CEO of SANZAR (South Africa New Zealand Australia Rugby) and was instrumental in the establishment of the Super Rugby and Tri-Nations tournaments.

Most recently he was appointed as administrator of the Western Province Rugby Football Union by SA Rugby. A replacement for that role will be appointed in due course.

“This is an interim role that required someone able to walk in and hit the ground running,” said Mr Mark Alexander, president of the South African Rugby Union.

“The requirements were for an individual who had an excellent understanding of the local rugby landscape as well as the capacity to engage at the SANZAAR, United Rugby Championship and World Rugby level.

“This is well trodden ground for Rian, and we are fortunate that he was in a position to accept our approach.”

Oberholzer also served on the Council of the then International Rugby Board (now World Rugby) and was director of Rugby World Cup Limited. He has run his own sports marketing and eventing companies since departing SA Rugby.

Mr Alexander reaffirmed that the contemplated private equity investment would lead to the establishment of a new commercial structure which would create two entities requiring CEOs. Once that process was nearing completion, recruitment would begin for those roles.

“The completion of the proposed equity transaction will trigger new appointments,” said Mr Alexander. “Appointing a single individual on a permanent basis right now would be unfair until the roles and responsibilities as well as the terms and conditions for the new positions had been finalised on completion of the equity transaction.”

Oberholzer said: “My role is to give leadership to the operational team and guide them in delivering the strategic objectives that have already been determined by the Executive Council.

“It is a surprise to find myself back in this role, but the business is well founded – despite some current short-term challenges – and it is an exciting time to be involved with a Rugby World Cup around the corner.”