Rugby Football League
|Rugby Football League|
|Formerly named||Northern Rugby Football Union, Northern Rugby Football League|
|RLEF affiliation||2003 (Full member)|
|Headquarters||Red Hall, Red Hall Lane, Leeds, England|
|Key people||Brian Barwick (Chair)
Nigel Wood (Chief Executive)
Rugby League Conference
As of 30 June 2009
The Rugby Football League (RFL) is the governing body for professional rugby league football in England. The name Rugby Football League previously also referred to the main league competition run by the organisation. This has since been supplanted by Super League, the Championship and Championship 1.
Based at Red Hall in Leeds, it administers the England national rugby league team, the Challenge Cup, Super League and the Rugby League Championships. The social and junior game is administered in association with the British Amateur Rugby League Association (BARLA). The Rugby Football League is a member of the Rugby League European Federation and as a senior Full Member has a combined veto power over the Council with France. The RFL is part of the Community Board, which also has representatives from BARLA, Combined Services, English Schools Rugby League and Student Rugby League.
Established as the Northern Rugby Football Union (often shortened to Northern Union) in August 1895 by representatives of twenty-one Rugby Football Union clubs at a meeting at the George Hotel, Huddersfield, it changed its name in 1922 to the Northern Rugby Football League, mirroring its sister organisations overseas, the Australian Rugby Football League and New Zealand Rugby Football League. Eventually the "Northern" was dropped from its name at the beginning of the 1980s.
On Tuesday 27 August 1895, as a result of an emergency meeting in Manchester, prominent Lancashire rugby clubs Broughton Rangers, Leigh, Oldham, Rochdale Hornets, St Helens, Tyldesley, Warrington, Widnes and Wigan declared that they would support their Yorkshire colleagues in their proposal to form a Northern Union.
Two days later, on Thursday 29 August 1895, representatives of 21 clubs met in the George Hotel, Huddersfield to form the "Northern Rugby Football Union" (usually termed Northern Union or NU). Twenty clubs agreed to resign from the Rugby Football Union, but Dewsbury felt unable to comply with the decision. The Cheshire club, Stockport, had telegraphed the meeting requesting admission to the new organisation and was duly accepted with a second Cheshire club, Runcorn, admitted at the next meeting.
The 22 clubs and their years of foundation were:
In 1908 the Northern Union's brand of rugby was taken up in Australia and New Zealand. The Union hosted touring sides from both countries before assembling a Great Britain representative team for a 1910 tour of Australia and New Zealand. These nations, particularly Australia, would go on to excel in the sport and gain significant influence over it over the following century.
The British Amateur Rugby League Association (BARLA) was created in 1973 in Huddersfield by a group of enthusiasts concerned about the dramatic disappearance of many amateur leagues and clubs. Fewer than 150 amateur teams remained with a mere 30 youth rugby league teams. The 'breakaway' from the RFL was acrimonious and was strongly contested, with a vote 29-1 against recognising BARLA. Thanks to Tom Mitchell, this changed to a unanimous vote of approval for BARLA within 12 months.
Maurice Lindsay became the Chief Executive of the RFL in 1992, proposing the Super League, which replaced Championship as the sport's premier league competition from 1996 onwards. Lindsay returned to Wigan in 1999 for his second stint at the club after Sir Rodney Walker, then chairman of the RFL, sacked him after a campaign to unseat him failed.
The RFL accumulated losses of £1.9 million at the end of 2001, shortly before a major restructuring of the governing body and the appointment of Richard Lewis as executive chairman in May 2002. Within a year of joining the RFL, he oversaw reunification with BARLA after nearly 30 years of division. Lewis left in 2012 to become Chief Executive of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. The RFL net value has been positive every year since 2004, being £1.7M in 2011.
In 2011 a major change to the game was agreed, changing from a winter to a summer game, starting in 2012 with a playing season from March to November, aligning with the Super League, which has played this way since 1996. The regional leagues may include winter competitions in addition.
In 2012, the Rugby Football League were awarded the Stonewall Sport Award in recognition of their work in embracing inclusivity and tackling homophobia. They also became the first UK sporting organisation to make the top 100 employers in the Stonewall Index that measures attitudes towards lesbian, gay and bisexual staff.
- Brian Barwick, Chairman since January 2013. Former chief executive of the Football Association.
- Maurice Watkins, CBE,Senior Non-Executive Director. A sports lawyer from Brabner Chaffe Street in Manchester and a former director of Manchester United F.C.
- Nigel Wood, Chief Executive since 2007. Also Deputy Chairman of the Rugby League International Federation
- Bob Stott, Non-Executive Director. Former Chief Executive of Morrisons Plc.
- Clare Morrow, Non-Executive Director. Currently Chair of the tourism marketing agency Welcome to Yorkshire.
Young People's Advisory Panel
The RFL launched the Young People's Advisory Panel in 2010, a group consisting of young people aged 16–25 from across England. The national panel meet at least three times a year at the RFL's Red Hall headquarters to discuss and debate the following:
- Changes in the structure of youth rugby;
- Communications between young rugby league enthusiasts and the RFL;
- RFL policies which impact on young people.
Former Hull player and Huddersfield Head Coach Jon Sharp is the current Head of the Match Officials Department of the Rugby Football League. He assumed this role following Stuart Cummings' departure in March 2013 having previously held the role of Match Officials Coach & Technical Director.
- Jon Sharp - Head of the Match Officials Department
- Steve Ganson - Match Officials Coach & Technical Director
- Ian Smith - Match Officials Coach