The 19th annual European Rugby League council meeting has taken place, with members meeting up virtually because travel restrictions arising from the global pandemic.
The main topic of the agenda was an update on the ERL’s governance review, a year-long project which has led to the implementation of several changes to the organization as part of a multi-stage audit.
The reporting Governance Working Group included members representing Spain, Germany, Italy, Serbia, England, France and Russia, chaired by independent director Mahdi Choudhury. As a result, members voted to:
- Double the amount of council votes allocated to each Affiliate Member from one to two, giving an even distribution of votes across the three tiers of membership.
- Increase the size of the board from seven to nine directors, increasing the number of member elected directors from two to three and independent directors from three to four, with England and France retaining their permanent seats.
- Increase the length of a director’s term from two to three years, but to introduce a cap on the number of terms a director may serve to three.
- Mandate in the Articles Of Association that the chairperson must be an independent director, and to introduce the role of vice chairperson, to be drawn from the directors representing the members.
In addition, it was agreed to the adoption of a Board Diversity Policy, an annual membership survey, and improvements to membership communications.
Interim chairperson, Graeme Thompson, commented: “The reforms were the culmination of a year’s work by many different personnel across our executive, membership and board, it was a real team effort to progress our organisation.
“The passion for the sport is evidenced by the amount of international matches we have seen in the last month. Men’s 2025 World Cup qualifying started with Euro D and new and present nations playing women’s and wheelchair matches. It remains a challenging time with Covid-19, but our members proved the adage, ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’.”
At the start of the meeting, Thompson paid tribute to previous chairperson Maurice Watkins CBE who sadly passed away earlier this year, along with the losses of South Africa secretary general Kobus Botha and Ilir Dashi, Albania’s founding president.
In other business, Paul Nicholson was returned as an independent director for a further term and members heard from ERL general manager David Butler about the company’s strategy for the 2021-2025 period.