Brian Barwick stands down as RFL chairman

Drew Darbyshire

Brian Barwick has left his position as chairman of the Rugby Football League to become president of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.

Barwick will step down as chair at the end of the RFL Council Meeting on July 24, 2019. He has served two three-year terms since he succeeded Maurice Watkins as chair in February 2013.

He will also step down as chair of Super League Europe and Rugby League World Cup 2021.

Explaining his decision to leave the RFL, Barwick said: “It has been an absolute privilege and pleasure to be at the helm of such a wonderful sport for the past six years and more.

“I have met some fantastic people – both on-field and off-field – watched some remarkable matches, worked with some very talented individuals and witnessed, with sheer admiration, how the game comes together when one of its own‎ is having a tough time. And I will miss all of those elements of rugby league life. However I feel it is the right time to give somebody else the chance to take the sport forward. And I will offer my unequivocal support to them.

“On a personal note I celebrate my own 65th birthday soon, and with over four decades in and around top-class sport behind me‎, I feel it is time now to scale back on some of my wide range of activities.

“I have played a central part in the governance changes and re-structuring of the game that has taken place over the past 18 months and at times it proved very challenging – and so it should have. However I was determined to stay in my current role until a satisfactory conclusion was reached, which is now imminent.

“I do believe the sport, at all levels, has a good future. And already I think this season there has been signs of ‎a freshness about our elite competitions.”

The RFL board nominations committee will meet soon to agree the process for the appointment of a successor as chair of the RFL, which will have to be ratified by the RFL council – and also of Rugby League World Cup 2021, to which the RFL is able to nominate the chair.

Simon Johnson, currently the RFL’s senior independent director, will act as interim chair of the RFL from July 24 until a new chair is able to start.