Ralph Rimmer is to stand down as Chief Executive of the Rugby Football League at the end of this year. He will have served for more than 12 years with the governing body, having joined as Chief Operating Officer in October 2010, and taken over as CEO in January 2018.
Karen Moorhouse, who has been the other Executive Director on the RFL Board since 2018 having also been the RFL’s Chief Regulatory Officer since 2017, will also stand down in December. She has been with the RFL since 2008, when she joined as Compliance Manager, and is a Non-Executive Director of Rugby League World Cup 2021, and a trustee of Rugby League Cares.
Ralph Rimmer said: “Karen has played an increasingly influential role in the sport since joining the RFL in 2008. In the last two years, she has been pivotal in steering Rugby League through the unique challenges of the pandemic, been integral to the realignment of the sport, and then in forging our new partnership with IMG. Her contribution and commitment to Rugby League has been immense and she has been a stand-out performer in often the most testing of environments. The sport and the organisation has massively benefited from her strength and sense of purpose over her tenure.”
Of his own departure, Rimmer added: “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.
“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. I am grateful to my incredible colleagues over more than a decade at the RFL, and to those at Rugby League Cares, Super League Europe, the Rugby League World Cup, and also to so many great friends across Rugby League.
“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.”
Karen Moorhouse 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. On a personal level I am looking forward to taking on new challenges; however, I will continue to enjoy and be a part of the Sport.”
Simon Johnson, the RFL Chair, said:
“Ralph and Karen are both stepping down, able to declare ‘mission accomplished’ as Rugby League moves to an exciting new era with a newly aligned governance structure and a long term partnership with IMG.
“Ralph has been an outstanding leader of the RFL. His passion, commitment, combativeness and vision has led the sport through Covid and into its new era. It was Ralph who secured the first, fastest and innovative Government support, which became a model for the rest of the industry throughout Covid.
“He has been a vital leader in the International environment, and a trusted liaison with Clubs at all levels. He is a popular and respected figure at clubs around the game and he will leave after the World Cup with the game able to enjoy the fruits of Ralph’s leadership over the last five years. He has been an excellent colleague and I wish him every success.
“I have worked with Karen for nearly 20 years, originally when we were both at the FA. Karen has been the driving force behind the Realignment and the Strategic Partnership, ensuring that the project plan for both remained on track, and has earned widespread respect around the game. She has also led the RFL’s regulatory function admirably, ensuring that our governance and procedures are of the highest standards in sport. Karen deserves to continue her successful career and she is entitled to be very proud of her achievements.
“The RFL will start a process now to appoint new leadership as we move into our new era.”
Rugby League Commercial, the new company created as part of the sport’s realignment, has already begun a recruitment process for a Managing Director, following the appointment of Frank Slevin as Chair last month.