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President and Vice President


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

Clare Balding OBE became the 30th President of the Rugby Football League in July 2020, succeeding Tony Adams MBE on a two-year term.

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

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.

Past Presidents

Year Name Club
2019 - 2020 Tony Adams MBE
2017 - 2018 Andy Burnham
2016 - 2017 Air Cdre Dean Andrew
2014 - 2015 Andrew Farrow
2013 - 2014 David Oxley CBE
2012 - 2013 Jim Hartley
2010 - 2011 Bev Risman OBE
2009 - 2010 Chris Hamilton Oldham
2008 - 2009 K Nicholas Batley Bulldogs
2007 - 2008 G Liles Hunslet Hawks
2006 - 2007 S Wagner Featherstone Rovers
2005 - 2006 P Hindle Castleford Tigers
2004 - 2005 G Hetherington Leeds Rhinos
2003 - 2004 T Fleet Widnes Vikings
2002 - 2003 R Taylor Rochdale Hornets
2001 - 2002 M White Swinton Lions
2000 - 2001 R Calvin Whitehaven
1999 - 2000 W Garrett Warrington Wolves
1998 - 1999 T Smith Widnes Vikings
1997 W.J Mason Hunslet
1995 - 1996 K Hetherington Sheffield Eagles
1994 - 1995 R Teeman Bramley
1993 - 1994 R Waudby Hull
1992 - 1993 C.C Hutton Hull Kingston Rovers
1991 - 1992 M.P Lindsay Wigan
1990 - 1991 H Jepson OBE Leeds
1989 - 1990 S Ackroyd Halifax
1988 - 1989 L.J Bettinson Salford

The President’s Awards winners

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. 

Year Winner Club Awarding President
2020 Mark Adams Community Integrated Care Clare Balding
2019 Reece Lyne Wakefield Trinity Tony Adams
2019 Lindsay Anfield Castleford Tigers Andy Burnham