The RFL has paid tribute to Maurice Oldroyd, former Chief Executive, Chair and Patron of the British Amateur Rugby League Association, who has died at the age of 87.
A former player, coach and referee, Oldroyd was a key figure in the breakaway which formed BARLA in 1973, becoming its first full-time employee and remaining closely associated with it for four decades – including when community Rugby League came back under the RFL umbrella in 2003.
Robert Hicks, the RFL’s Director of Operations and Legal, said: “This has been such a sad week for Rugby League, after the loss of David Oxley CBE, Fred Lindop MBE and now Maurice Oldroyd.
“The sport had been guilty of failing to show sufficient respect to the amateur game, or to recognise its importance, until the formation of BARLA in 1973 – in which Maurice was such a pivotal figure.
“He remained a passionate advocate for the sport in general and BARLA in particular, and he will be fondly remembered by so many people in Rugby League and beyond.
“He took such pride when Queen Elizabeth II opened BARLA’s headquarters in 1991 in Huddersfield, his home town – deserved recognition after the part he had played in breaking down the discrimination against amateur Rugby League players from rugby union, and also in promoting the development of the sport, particularly in higher education.
“I have known Maurice for over 30 years and throughout that time his passion for the sport never diminished. He often would provide advice, guidance and views on many subjects but particularly the community game for which he was such an advocate. I am sure many across the entire sport share my sorrow at his passing.”
Kelly Barrett, the RFL’s Head of Community Game Competitions, added: “I had the pleasure of working with Maurice for many years when he was the Chief Executive of BARLA. Maurice worked on many of the working groups which saw the sport unify in 2003 and made a significant contribution to shaping the sport at grassroots level. Maurice’s love and passion for Rugby League was unquestionable and his dedication to BARLA and what that represented never faded.”