Clare Balding backs her ‘brilliant’ successor as RFL president

OUTGOING RFL President Clare Balding has backed her successor Sir Lindsay Hoyle to do a great job in the role.

Balding will officially hand over the ceremonial chains to Hoyle, the current Speaker of the House of Commons and MP for Chorley, at the President’s Ball in Leeds on January 14.

The TV broadcaster took on the role in June 2020, with her term set to run for two years, but she was later granted a six-month extension to allow her to oversee this year’s delayed World Cup.

“Sir Lindsay is going to be brilliant,” Balding, who received her CBE from Princess Anne on Thursday, told Rugby League World magazine.

“He’s a man of huge status, but he’s also a worker and genuine human being, so he’ll be terrific in the role. He will have different connections and different thoughts to me, so he’ll add something new.

“He’s a real life-long fan and he really gets the game. 

“It will be quite odd to give it up after such an enjoyable couple of years, but when you take the role, you know you’ve only got it for a short time. So I’m not sad about passing it over – I knew it would happen – I’m just really glad that I have done it.

“It has genuinely been the greatest honour of my life. I don’t say that lightly, because so many wonderful things have happened, but this is the first time I have been asked to perform a role that I genuinely didn’t think I had earned or deserved. But I said yes because I thought it would be different and interesting and that I would learn.

“Honestly, it has been a massive privilege and I have been so appreciative of the messages that so many people have sent. They have been so positive and I have received a lot of love from the Rugby League community.

“I will still be going to matches and, now that the Challenge Cup Final is a double-header for the men’s and women’s, I am doubly excited to go.

“It will be different to my role in the last couple of years, but I am massively looking forward to continuing to enjoy the game as a fan and will always do my best to spread the word and help in any way I can.”

The full interview with Clare Balding can be found in the new edition of Rugby League World magazine, which is available from Friday. Visit to pre-order your copy now.