RUGBY league will get a new power base after Rugby Football League boss Ralph Rimmer announced he is leaving at the end of the year.
One of the contenders to succeed him, Karen Moorhouse, is also departing.
Rugby Football League chief executive Rimmer is standing down after four years in charge, four years which have seen him navigate the 13-a-side code through the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, as sports giants IMG conduct a review of the sport after becoming its strategic partner – and as it realigns after Super League ‘split’ – he says it is time to go.
And he knows fans will have criticised him, he expected it,
Rimmer said: “It’s the right time – for the sport, and for me.
“It has been the biggest privilege of my life to be CEO of the RFL – and an immense challenge and responsibility to fill that role during such a tumultuous period for all sport, and for rugby league in particular.
“After the initial shock of Covid and as its impact on sport became apparent, we resolved that we must do much more than survive, and instead use it as an opportunity to set rugby league on a new course.
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“We have reshaped the sport’s governance, with the formation of a new commercial arm serving the whole of the sport – an essential step to forge a partnership with IMG which is unique in British sport and holds the potential to take rugby league to a new level.
“They are a world class operation, with world class people – and they are working with a magnificent sport, as we look ahead to the unique opportunities of the Rugby League World Cup in England this autumn.
“These changes have been planned and mutually agreed between myself and the RFL Board for some time and as a result we have spoken at various club forums on their necessity.
“I have been around the sport long enough to know that you cannot please everyone in a position such as this – and indeed, that you should never attempt to do so.
“But it’s the people in rugby league, on and off the field, who make it such a special sport.
“Whatever I do next, I’ll always be available to rugby league, in whatever way I can help.
“For the next few months, however, my focus will be on playing my part in the significant changes that are ongoing – and on supporting our England Men’s, Women’s, Wheelchair and PDRL teams as we finally welcome the rugby league world.”
If anything, RFL chief regulatory officer and executive director Karen Moorhouse’s December departure is a bigger shock – she was touted by many as a potential successor.
She said: “I have enjoyed my journey in rugby league and being part of the development of the sport over the last decade – including the growth in the Women’s and Girls’ Game.
“Post the pandemic, my focus has been governance realignment, bringing on board a strategic partner and maximising the impact of the World Cup.
“I am proud that the sport is now on a positive trajectory with the new organisational structure set to be operational at the start of 2023.
“As such, I believe that the time is right for me to move on.”
Rugby League Commercial, the new company created as part of the sport’s realignment, has already started a recruitment process for a managing director, following the appointment of Frank Slevin as chairman last month.
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