The Rugby Football League have announced that former England and Arsenal captain Tony Adams will become the organisation’s president next summer, replacing Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham in the role.
Adams, 52, has a reputation as one of England’s best-ever defenders and has experience of managing football clubs in recent years. However, his off-field work has led to this appointment with him having forged close links with the RFL through his Sporting Chance charity. He founded the charity after his own struggles with alcohol and drug addiction and Adams believes he can boost the sport’s profile. “I am passionate about working with everyone in the sport to raise the profile of mental health, wellness and resilience, for players and for everyone in Rugby League,” he told the media after the announcement. “I’d like to play my part in championing this brilliant sport on the national stage,” he added.Embed from Getty Images
Emphasising the level of support Adams’ charity has provided to rugby league and its’ players, RFL chairman Brian Barwick explained that the former footballer has helped hundreds in rugby. “The charity has helped more than 400 rugby league players since the RFL entered into an official partnership with Sporting Chance in 2011,” he explained, continuing that Adams himself had given seminars to both Hull FC and Wigan earlier this year. “The game has recognised the importance of mental health, for players and everyone else involved, and Tony’s election is another significant step in that regard,” he went on to note.
It should be noted that while the title of ‘president’ sounds as though the former international defender will have a dominant role in running the sport, it is more of a ceremonial, ambassadorial role and while he will be involved with rugby league, it will not be a position where he decides on laws, rules and running the game.