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Leeds Rhinos great appointed as chair of ‘new-look’ RFL board

It has been confirmed that Leeds Rhinos legend Jamie Jones-Buchanan has been appointed as the new chair of Rugby League’s Inclusion Board.

The Inclusion Board features a number of names familiar to rugby league fans with former Super League official James Child also among the nine-strong team who are on the board.

Another is former Huddersfield Giants stalwart and current Bradford Bulls player Michael Lawrence whilst there is representation from the Women’s game through England international Kelsey Gentles.

The position of Chair of the Inclusion Board became vacant when Rimla Akhtar stepped down in late 2023 and it’s now the turn of the Leeds Rhinos legend to step up and take on the role.

News of Jones-Buchanan’s appointment was confirmed by the Rugby Football League via a statement published on their website.

It read: “Jamie Jones-Buchanan is today confirmed as the new chair of Rugby League’s Inclusion Board, the forum set up in 2021 to work alongside and challenge the RFL Executive and Board in the creation and delivery of the game’s TACKLE IT action plan.

“Board members are drawn from wide-ranging backgrounds, and the Leeds Rhinos legend joins existing members such as Bradford Bulls’ Michael Lawrence and new faces including Heather Robinson from Salford Red Devils Foundation.”

What does the RFL Inclusion Board do?

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The RFL Inclusion Board was set up to promote more diversity within the sport and that is overseen through a number of campaigns that the Inclusion Board head up with the major one being the TACKLE IT campaign.

The appointment statement of the man affectionately known to fans of Leeds Rhinos as ‘JJB’ outlined what exactly the TACKLE IT campaign is and how Jones-Buchanan will set about his new role.

It explained: “Collectively board members oversee progress against TACKLE IT, the ambitious and far-reaching action plan to make Rugby League a truly inclusive sport by tackling discrimination and breaking down any barriers to involvement. Like the board membership, the plan itself has also been refreshed and refocused in key areas – a reflection both of progress since 2021 and work still to be done.

“Jamie Jones-Buchanan succeeds Rimla Akhtar, who steps down after four years in the role having steered the inception and evolution on the TACKLE IT plan. Jamie sits on the RFL Board in an observer capacity, and is Director of Culture, Diversity and Inclusivity at Leeds Rhinos. During an illustrious playing career, he represented England and was part of the Rhinos’ trophy-laden ‘golden generation’.”

What the Leeds Rhinos legend had to say about his new role?

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Jones-Buchanan also made a brief comment on his appointment and how he will attack the new role, stating: “It’s a huge pleasure to have the opportunity to continue serving the game in this new role. My driving passion each day is to pay that gift forward and play a small part in making Rugby League as inclusive and accessible as possible to all.

“I have a deep gratitude for the gift of opportunity that the game has given me to fulfil many of boyhood dreams and realise some of my potential. I’m not short of passion, but I have a great deal to learn and I very much look forward to learning the insight and experiences of my fellow board members.”

For more information on the RFL’s diversity campaigns and the recent RESPECT campaign specifically, you can click here.

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