Newport Gwent Dragons chief executive Gareth Davies has been elected chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union following a vote by the board of directors.
David Pickering failed to win re-election to the board in September and his 11-year tenure as chairman officially came to an end on Tuesday.
Davies will step down from his role at Rodney Parade after serving a suitable notice period.
"It is a fantastic honour to be elected chairman of the WRU," Davies said.
Current board director Martin Davies was also nominated as a candidate for chairman but Davies won after a secret ballot, while Ken Hewitt was re-elected as deputy chairman.
"I want to thank the board of directors for their support and confidence in my ability to represent the WRU," said Davies, who takes up the post with immediate effect.
"I have also been encouraged by the support I have already received from so many grassroots clubs.
"I also want to personally thank the departing chairman, David Pickering, for the immense contribution he has made across the past 11 years he held this post.
"I am determined to ensure the WRU is a governing body we can be proud of."
Pickering, capped 26 times by Wales, had sought re-election for one of two available national appointed director posts, but Davies and Llanelli head of rugby Anthony Buchanan won more votes.
Dragons head coach Kingsley Jones has said Davies has all the attributes for the role of WRU chairman.
WRU group chief executive Roger Lewis says Davies will receive his full support: "I want to offer my congratulations to Gareth on his appointment.
"I look forward to working closely with Gareth as we seek to sustain and develop our role as the national sport of Wales and a key nation at the top level of the world game."
Dragons chairman Martyn Hazell said he was sorry to see Davies go, although he believes the appointment will benefit the wider game in Wales.
"It's good news for Welsh rugby, Gareth will do a fantastic job but it's not good news for the Dragons because we've got to look for a new CEO," he told BBC Wales Sport.
"But we can't have everything, it'll be more advantageous for Welsh rugby (for Davies to be chairman) than being CEO of Newport Gwent Dragons.
"He'll bring calm to it, he's not an argumentative sort of person. We've had too many arguments in the past and Gareth will smooth things over, he'll take a middle road."
A long-running dispute between the regions and the WRU ended at the start of the season, and Hazell says Davies and the union's Chief Executive Roger Lewis will now need to move on.
"I think they've got to put the individual rows aside, they've got to work together for the good of Welsh rugby otherwise it's going down the drain," Hazell added.