Ralph Rimmer on decision to step down as RFL chief executive and achievements

RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer will call time on his role at the end of 2022, when he will have completed five years in charge.

Rimmer hasn’t yet got another job to go to, but he feels that the time is right to move on from the RFL, given the dramatic changes that are likely to occur in the sport and that this is a World Cup year.

The twelve-year agreement that has been signed with the IMG Group to “re-imagine” the game is likely to lead to significant changes, with IMG currently preparing a report on the game, including proposed league structures, that will be presented to the clubs in the week beginning 26 September.

“I do believe you should always be aware of over-staying your welcome,” Rimmer, who stepped into his role on 1st January 2018, told League Express.

“A World Cup is a natural step-off point.

“I have been here twelve years in various roles. And I have been sitting around the Council and Super League tables for 25 years.

“I genuinely believe that this year will go down in Rugby League history as being just as important as 1895 (the birth of the Northern Union) and 1996 (the creation of Super League and the move to summer).”

When asked about his own role, Rimmer cites several key initiatives that he has played a significant role in.

“I’m proud of the game having created the England Performance Unit, which has brought the women’s and wheelchair game on board with the men’s game. That has resulted in the stratospheric growth of the women’s game, while the wheelchair game is an extraordinary part of Rugby League. It’s a real tonic for anyone who loves Rugby League, as we will all see at the World Cup.

“When I took up my post the game was splitting, and when its benefits were seen not to be working, we had to work very hard to bring it back together.

“One visible outcome is that the whole game is now back together on one site at the Etihad in Manchester.

“Then we had the shock of Covid, which threatened the game from top to bottom. We were able to access funding from government to tide the game over much earlier than most other sports.

“The World Cup will play a crucial role in raising the profile of Rugby League in this country.

“And that goes hand in hand with reaching an agreement with IMG, our strategic partner, which offers us outstanding potential for commercial growth.’

During his time as RFL chief executive Rimmer has frequently acted as a spokesman for the ‘big five’ sports of football, both rugby codes, tennis and cricket when dealing with government. Rimmer has a particularly good relationship with the current Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston.

“Speaking with my peers around the big five sports, they are in awe of what we have done in reforming the governance of the game, bringing everyone together and creating a new commercial entity,” added Rimmer.

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