Brian Barwick’s letter in full to clubs and stakeholders after stepping down as RFL chair

Brian Barwick has outlined his intentions to step down as the chair of the RFL.

The 64-year-old has confirmed that, after six years, he will not stand for a third term in charge.

He confirmed the news in a letter to clubs and stakeholders, which we have published in its entirety below.

Dear colleagues,

After lengthy deliberation I have decided to step down as Chairman of the Rugby Football League later this summer. As a consequence I will not be seeking re-election for a third term of office at the organisation’s AGM in July. I’ll also be standing down as Chairman of Super League Europe.

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. There has been a significant growth in profile and broadcast coverage for both Super League and Championship and League 1. The streaming of matches from those competitions, and also from the early rounds of the Challenge Cup, have brought a whole new opportunity for people to enjoy our sport on both traditional and new media platforms.

It is also great to see the Women’s Super League developing so well – and a real sense of direction for our Community Game emerging. And I believe our England teams are showing real signs of the value of the investment that has been put into them over the past few years.

During my time in office I have attended many RLIF meetings, trying to play my part in making sure that the International Game remains an important element of the future of the sport. And I was delighted to be the Chairman of the successful Rugby League World Cup 2021 ‎bid and subsequently the Chairman of the organisation tasked with delivering the biggest and boldest Rugby League World Cup there has ever been. I will stand down from that post too, but am absolutely delighted to accept an offer to be the organisation’s President and will continue to do my bit in helping deliver a stand-out international event in this country. A World Cup that will encompass men’s, women’s and wheelchair team competitions staged in ‎some of the country’s finest stadiums and in the heartland of the game.

I will leave the sport with a thousand memories, those two World Cup semi-finals – the last-gasp England defeat against New Zealand at Wembley in 2013 and the remarkable setting for England’s 2017 win over Tonga in Auckland – amongst them. And my favourite? Possibly watching England clinch a Test series win over New Zealand last year, with the match-winning try scored in front of the Kop at Anfield.

I will also hold very dear the privilege and honour of laying a wreath on behalf of the RFL at the Cenotaph on each Challenge Cup Final eve. ‎A timely reminder that sport, our sport, has the gift and responsibility to help bring people together rather than set them apart.

In closing – I must thank all the club officials who have welcomed me so warmly when I’ve attended matches. And thank the RFL staff for all the hard work they do on behalf of the game – often unsung. And, of course, I must thank my fellow RFL Board members, past and present, for their insight and companionship. The meetings have never been dull!

‎I will continue to watch the great game of rugby league and be a firm and committed advocate and supporter of the sport – and I promise to be ‘onside’ at all times!