Nigel Wood to step down as RFL chief executive

THE Rugby Football League chief executive Nigel Wood has confirmed he will stand down later this month after serving 10 years in the post.

Nigel Wood
Nigel Wood

Wood, who became chief executive of the RFL and Super League in 2007, is thought to be lined up as the next Rugby League International Federation CEO when David Collier’s contract expires in May.

He has been a RFL Board Member for 16 years but was recently ousted from the board of Super League after the clubs achieved a 75 per cent majority to make a constitutional change.

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Wood concedes this is the “right time to step out” of his RFL role and chief operating officer Ralph Rimmer will act as interim chief executive while the RFL Board begin the search for a replacement.

“I am extremely honoured and privileged to have served as Chief Executive of the Rugby Football League,” said Wood, who was one of the two original creators of Super League Ltd and instrumental in devising the Grand Final concept in 1998.

“I am an unashamed Rugby League fan and can think of no greater honour that be asked to fulfil the role of CEO for the Rugby Football League. However, leadership presents many tests, and the greatest of these is to recognise when it is time to step out and this is the right moment to do so.

“I would like to place on record my unreserved thanks to the many excellent colleagues, the clubs and all those that I have worked with throughout the last sixteen years and wish them the best of luck for the future.”

Wood was also behind the introduction of the Magic Weekend, first brought into the sport in 2008 and secured the biggest commercial deal in the sports history with long-term broadcast partner Sky Sports in 2014.

Of course, he has come under plenty of scrutiny, too, not least for the handling of Bradford Bulls’ situation when the former Super League champions went into liquidation.

But Rugby Football League chairman Brian Barwick said: “Nigel has been a superb administrator, innovator and advocate for the sport of rugby league in this country.

“His range of achievements in the sport speak for themselves and he has brought a genuine love of the game to his work over many years. His time at the helm of the Rugby Football League will always be looked upon warmly and with great respect.”

After overseeing one of the most successful Rugby League World Cup’s ever in 2013, Wood recently helped the Rugby Football League secure £25m in additional Government funding to deliver the 2021 World Cup and improve facilities for Rugby League across the country.

Wood will continue as chairman of the Rugby League World Cup 2021 Ltd.