The December meeting of the Rugby League Council has recognised the role played in the Covid-19 pandemic by Community Integrated Care, the sport’s national social care partner, as its chief executive Mark Adams received the RFL President’s Award from Clare Balding OBE.
The President’s Award was introduced by Andy Burnham in 2018, and is designed to recognise inspiring work to change lives and communities through Rugby League, and achievements by players, coaches and volunteers which bring the sport to new audiences.
Lindsay Anfield received the inaugural Award from Andy Burnham as a trailblazing female coach, and during his Presidency in 2019-20, Tony Adams MBE made two awards: to the Wakefield Trinity and England centre Reece Lyne for his mentoring work with young offenders; and to Dr Gemma Phillips, the Hull KR and England team doctor who has also been the RFL’s Covid lead, for her exceptional efforts in the service of the restart of the sport in 2020.
Clare Balding, who succeeded Tony Adams as RFL President in the summer, explained to Council that the award to Mark Adams and CIC also has a strong Covid-19 element – although the unique partnership had already been well-established before 2020.
As Rugby League’s national social care partner, CIC’s relationship with the sport extends across developing Rugby League playing opportunities for players with learning difficulties – including the CIC Learning Disability Super League – to activity sessions inspired by Rugby League, and with a major announcement imminent regarding volunteering opportunities at next year’s World Cup.
The pandemic has put social care in the national spotlight. CIC colleagues and clients have faced huge challenges including the loss of loved ones in the CIC community. This is the Rugby League community.
Clare Balding said:
“I am delighted that Mark Adams is recipient of my first RFL President’s Award. Mark is an inspirational leader and has demonstrated considerable bravery in speaking up for the people CIC cares for, and for CIC colleagues throughout this difficult year.
“Mark and the CIC team also worked with the sport to create online resources – the #ActiveatHome toolkit – to help anyone with additional needs – including members of the Rugby League community with autism, learning disabilities or dementia – to keep active this year.
“Rugby League is the only sport with a national social care partner. That is something everyone in the sport can be proud of as we aim to make Rugby League the nation’s most inclusive sport.”
Mark Adams said:
“We are massively proud of our partnership with the RFL and the extended Rugby League family with the Super League, RL Cares and the World Cup. We’re a charity that grew up with northern roots, and we look after working-class communities. For many in those communities it’s been a horrendous year, but we have been amazingly well supported by Rugby League people, whether in the distribution of millions of items of PPE, or in the delivery of virtual fitness classes. It’s wonderful to receive this award from Clare Balding, and on behalf of all at our charity, thank you.”
Also at the Council meeting, there were two additions to the RFL Roll of Honour: the renowned Rugby League historian and author Tony Collins, in recognition of his work over many years including in 2020 his role in marking the sport’s 125th anniversary, including the earlier decision to add Joseph Platt to the Roll of Honour; and Emma Rosewarne, who stepped down from her role as Head of Welfare with RL Cares in April after almost four decades working full-time in the sport in a variety of roles, with an increasing focus on the importance of player welfare.
The induction of Joseph Platt, Tony Collins and Emma Rosewarne takes the number of members of the RFL’s Roll of Honour to 43 — full details here — inductees
Council also approved a change to the articles which permitted the extension by one year of the terms of Simon Johnson as Chair, and of Dr Rimla Akhtar MBE as a Non-Executive Director. Both have now been elected until the Annual General Meeting in the summer of 2023.