The roles of President and Vice President are honorary and appointed by the RFL Council


The roles of President and Vice President are honorary, unpaid roles. Each role is appointed by the RFL Council.

The President is an individual who the Council believes will represent the Game with distinction and/or add significant profile to the Game. The Vice President is usually the longest serving member of Council who has not already served as Vice President or President.  

The President and Vice President represent the RFL at a number of different events during their term of office and will often chose to associate themselves with and promote campaigns that have personal resonance. They do not sit on the RFL Board and do not have any decision making powers.


Clare Balding OBE became the 30th President of the Rugby Football League in July 2020, succeeding Tony Adams MBE on a two-year term - which was extended by an additional six months, to December 2022, to reflect the postponement of RLWC2021.

The broadcaster, journalist and author presented the BBC’s Rugby League coverage from 2006-12, building on a soft spot for the game she had retained from her family’s roots in Knowsley – and earning widespread admiration and gratitude from supporters.

She has been a familiar and popular figure on the coverage of many sports on both the BBC and Channel 4, starting in Horse Racing and having now worked on six Olympic Games, in addition to numerous Wimbledons and Winter Olympics, and on Channel 4’s award-winning coverage of the Paralympics.

She has also written a Sunday Times bestseller, continues to present Ramblings on BBC Radio 4, and has won all manner of awards for her presenting and journalism.

Vice President

Mike Smith was the CEO of Hull KR for over a decade. A life-long supporter of the club, he led change and development club both on and off the field. His expertise in developing club-community links is highly regarded throughout the sport; appropriately for someone whose first role at the club was to develop links between the professional club and local grassroots clubs having spent over a decade selflessly volunteering at local community club Skirlaugh ARLFC.

His love of the sport is second only to his dedication to his family, including his grandchildren. During his ten-year tenure at Hull KR he oversaw the success of the club in attracting not only International Rugby League, but also other major sporting events including boxing as well as concerts and cultural events, alongside expanding its popular membership offer.

Over his dedicated decade as Chief Executive he oversaw five coaches in both Super League and the Championship and the highs and lows of reaching the Challenge Cup Final.

He led the club’s wider commitments including to the growth of Women’s Rugby League and is also rightly proud of the club’s work in both Physical Disability and Learning Disability Rugby League alongside a full and vibrant community activity programme which encompasses everything from dance to learning and skills.


2019 - 2020
Tony Adams MBE
2017 - 2018Andy Burnham
2016 - 2017Air Cdre Dean Andrew
2015 - 2016Paul MorganHuddersfield Giants
2014 - 2015Andrew Farrow
2013 - 2014David Oxley CBE
2012 - 2013Jim Hartley
2010 - 2011Bev Risman OBE
2009 - 2010Chris HamiltonOldham
2008 - 2009K NicholasBatley Bulldogs
2007 - 2008G LilesHunslet Hawks
2006 - 2007S WagnerFeatherstone Rovers
2005 - 2006P HindleCastleford Tigers
2004 - 2005G HetheringtonLeeds Rhinos
2003 - 2004T FleetWidnes Vikings
2002 - 2003R TaylorRochdale Hornets
2001 - 2002M WhiteSwinton Lions
2000 - 2001R CalvinWhitehaven
1999 - 2000W GarrettWarrington Wolves
1998 - 1999T SmithWidnes Vikings
1997W.J MasonHunslet
1995 - 1996K HetheringtonSheffield Eagles
1994 - 1995R TeemanBramley
1993 - 1994R WaudbyHull
1992 - 1993C.C HuttonHull Kingston Rovers
1991 - 1992M.P LindsayWigan
1990 - 1991H Jepson OBELeeds
1989 - 1990S AckroydHalifax
1988 - 1989L.J BettinsonSalford


The RFL President’s Awards are special awards in the gift of the President and are designed to recognise inspiring work to change lives and communities through Rugby League, and achievements by players, coaches and volunteers which bring the sport to new audiences. 

Lindsay Anfield received her award thanks to her dedication to her Castleford women's team’s success, and wider campaigning around women’s rugby league; combining her coaching commitments with an exceptionally busy senior role in education.

Lindsay undertook the Women into High Performance Coaching – a UK Coaching programme. This was a yearlong, bespoke and rigorous programme aimed at female coaches who have been identified by their National Governing Body to have the potential to work within the performance environment within one to five years.

Reece Lyne is one of several Super League players who have given time and expertise to support a ground-breaking project at Wetherby Young Offenders Institute delivered by the charity Rugby League Cares.

The programme involved players sharing their own experiences with young people and mentoring them to help improve their self-esteem and get their lives back on track.

Separately from the Rugby League Cares project, Reece has also developed a mentoring programme of his own with young offenders in Hull whose behaviour has disrupted their own lives and affected the lives of others. 

YearWinnerClubAwarding President
2020Mark AdamsCommunity Integrated CareClare Balding
2020Dr Gemma PhillipsHull Kingston Rovers & England Rugby LeagueTony Adams
2019Reece LyneWakefield TrinityTony Adams
2019Lindsay AnfieldCastleford TigersAndy Burnham