Clare Balding to become RFL president in 2020

Drew Darbyshire

Television presenter Clare Balding will become the president of the Rugby Football League next summer, succeeding ex-footballer Tony Adams.

Broadcaster Balding, 48, will be the RFL’s 30th president and will be supported by Hull KR chief executive Mike Smith, who will become vice-president.

Smith, who has been with the Robins since 2010, will take over from Doncaster chief executive Carl Hall as vice-president.

Balding said: “I am so proud to be asked to help promote the wonderful sport of rugby league.

“As I know from my time presenting the game and following it as a fan, it is full of tradition and history but has a truly modern outlook.

“It’s going global with teams from Europe and Canada alongside the great traditional clubs and I think this is a really exciting time.

“I am honoured to be the next president of the Rugby Football League and will promote rugby league nationally and internationally.  I will be supporting the current RFL president Tony Adams as he continues his great work to champion the sport and look forward to taking up my role in summer 2020.”

RFL chairman Simon Johnson added: “Clare’s profile and popularity, coupled with her authentic love of the sport, will be a huge asset to rugby league as we look forward to hosting three World Cups – Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair – in England in 2021.

“Mike has given outstanding service to Hull Kingston Rovers in the professional game and also has a deep knowledge of the community game from his previous roles with Skirlaugh.”

Balding has been appointed for two years from July 2020-22, with Smith for one year from July 2020-21.

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