Ex-Lions rugby union star bids to grow Rugby League in Wales through new role

WALES Rugby League have made former Wales and British and Irish Lions rugby union star Richard Hibbard their new chief executive and they are confident he can grow the 13-a-side game in the country.

The 40-year-old played 38 times for Wales, featuring in two Six Nations title triumphs, and three for the Lions over a career which took in provincial sides Ospreys and Dragons as well as Swansea and Gloucester.

Hibbard has also forged a strong reputation as an entrepreneur – owning two restaurants in Port Talbot, his home town, and launching the ‘Mortal Bunny Rum’ brand – and as a public speaker.

He played Rugby League for Aberavon Fighting Irish as a teenager, winning a cap for Wales Dragonhearts, the community game representative team.

His WRL role will focus on creating partnerships to support the development of the sport at all levels.

“Rugby League has always been important to me and I would have loved to have a season or two as a player,” he said.

“But now I’m presented with the next best thing – an amazing opportunity to bring awareness of the rich talent we have here in our country.

“I want to grow the sport of Rugby League in Wales the right way, from the bottom up.

“That’s about shaping the game that’s right for Wales, creating opportunities both within the community and all the way to elite levels, built on strong foundations.

“Integral to that will be strengthening relationships with our stakeholders, and creating new partnerships and relationships that are mutually beneficial.”

WRL chair James Davies said: “What Richard has achieved both as a player and a businessman has been impressive.

“We believe the attributes and characteristics he brings are aligned to our vision and cultural journey.

“Richard will aim to create new partnerships which help us to achieve our vision – from providing more people with the opportunity to play the game in Wales to successful representative teams to showcase our nation on the international stage.

“He knows the importance of creating a strong brand that people want to be involved or associated with.”

First published in League Express newspaper, Issue 3,428 (April 29, 2024)

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