Robert Elstone heads for Super League exit proud of achievements

Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone says he will look back with “great pride” on what he has achieved when he leaves the organisation today.

Super League announced on February 9 that it had received notice of the Yorkshireman’s intention to leave his position.

It confirmed last night that today will be the former Everton CEO’s last day in the job.

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In a statement, in his first public comments since his decision was announced, Barnsley-born Elstone said: “I am grateful to the Super League Board for giving me the opportunity to do the job I have always wanted and will look back with great pride on what has been achieved since I joined Super League at the start of its new journey, almost three years ago.

“I’d also like to thank colleagues, clubs, coaches and players, and our great partners for their unswerving commitment to Super League.

“They have made my time at Super League enjoyable and fulfilling and I leave with many wonderful memories.

“Rugby League will always be in my blood and, just as I have always believed for as long as I can remember, it has a bright and exciting future. I look forward to watching that unfold.”

The Super League board added: “Super League would like to thank Robert for the commitment and energy he has brought to the role of Executive Chairman.

New challenge: Robert Elstone leaves his post as Executive Chairman of Superleague Europe today. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“His undoubted passion for the game of rugby league has always been clear and he’s worked hard to increase the success of Super League. We wish him every success in his future endeavours.”

Elstone did enjoy successes since taking over in June 2018 including raising the size of the sponsorship deal with Betfred, a record Super League television audience for the 2019 Grand Final and, earlier that year, the biggest Easter attendances in the competition’s history.

There was also a record weekly round attendance of 31,555 when he helped boldly take Super League to Barcelona’s Nou Camp for Catalans Dragons v Wigan Warriors in May 2019.

Elstone will point to securing a private equity deal of around £70m as another positive although, ultimately, it was his failure to get all the clubs to agree to this and push it through that led to him eventually standing down shortly afterwards.

He also drew some criticism for his handling of the Toronto Wolfpack affair and found it difficult dealing with 12 clubs who often were trying to protect their own interests.

Super League will discuss at their next board meeting whether or not to replace Elstone.

Meanwhile, Bradford Bulls are to give a month’s trial to former Wales international Anthony Walker, who retired from rugby league in 2017 after being diagnosed with a brain abnormality.

The ex-Wakefield Trinity prop, 29, was forced to quit the game after scans revealed an abnormality that had been with him undetected since birth.

However, he has since made a full recovery and has been cleared by the RFL to make his return.

Bradford chief John Kear coached Walker at Wakefield and with Wales. The Championship club are also giving a trial to Widnes Vikings back-row Brad Calland, son of former Bulls player Matt Calland.

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