Clare Balding’s term as RFL president extended

Broadcaster Clare Balding OBE will continue as president of the RFL until December 2022.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the Rugby League Council today (Wednesday), where the league structure for the 2023 season was also confirmed.

A summary statement released following the meeting said that the extension of Balding’s term was “partly to reflect the unique circumstances of the last two years and the delay to the Rugby League World Cup.”

She has been in the honorary role since July 2020, having succeeded Tony Adams.

For the first time there will be an all-female president and vice-president team next year, with British Amateur Rugby League Association (BARLA) council representative Sue Taylor nominated to be vice president from July 2022 to December 2023.

She will also become only the third woman to hold that position, after Kath Hetherington and Pat Crawshaw.

The current vice president, Mike Smith, is expected to continue to work alongside the pair until December 2022 in a new role of deputy vice president.

The council also approved the induction to the RFL Roll of Honour of Tony Martin, who has served as a match official for more than three decades.

He was one of Super League’s most respected touch judges across the first 25 years of the competition, and appeared in 10 Super League Grand Finals, five Challenge Cup finals and the 2000 World Cup final.

Martin, who continues to officiate in the community game, becomes the 44th name on the Roll of Honour, which was introduced in 2003 to recognise individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the game.