Rhodri Jones’ RL Commercial appointment defended as managing director speaks on TV deal plans

RUGBY LEAGUE Commercial Chair Frank Slevin has defended the appointment of Rhodri Jones as its first Managing Director.

The new body will handle the commercial aspects of the game following the realignment of the RFL and Super League.

Jones, who was last week appointed to lead RL Commercial from January 1, has been the Chief Commercial Officer of Super League since 2018.

But Slevin insisted that after their “comprehensive global search”, Jones was found to be the best person for the job.

“One of the things that is really satisfying is when you have an international search and you genuinely looked to find the best people in the world for a particular role, and what you find is you have that golden nugget under your nose,” said Slevin, who leads a six-strong Board alongside RFL Chair Simon Johnson, IMG’s Head of Sport Ed Mallaburn, and three non-executive directors with expertise in sports or business, Anna Chanduvi, Peter Hutton and Jonathan Murphy.

“So it’s a real pleasure to confirm Rhodri’s appointment. He will be a fantastic leader for our sport as we look to broaden and diversify what we’re doing in this new era under the IMG partnership.”

Jones said: “I’m incredibly proud and honoured to accept this role, the first executive role of Rugby League Commercial. 

“I’m in a privileged position to take the sport forward. I don’t underestimate how hard we’ll need to work to be successful, but we have a huge opportunity.”

Jones acknowledged that his first big task in the role will be negotiating a TV deal from 2024 onwards.

Super League suffered a significant reduction in its last deal, which expires at the end of next year.

But Jones is confident that the changes made by the sport since that two-year contract was signed will help secure a better deal in negotiations at the beginning of next year.

“I’d like to think we’ve reacted to the news that we got two years ago, with realignment, the creation of Rugby League Commercial, and IMG (coming on board as strategic partners),” said Jones.

“I’d like to think we’ve not left any stone unturned for when we go into the war room with broadcasters. 

“We’ve got to put ourselves in the best possible spot to get the best deal for ourselves.

“If we’re able to achieve success there, it will provide us with a strong foundation for future growth.”