At the RFL Council meeting on December 2, the 42nd and 43rd members of the RFL Roll of Honour were officially inducted.
They followed Joseph Platt, the founding secretary of the Northern Rugby Football Union, who had been inducted on August 29, to mark the 125th anniversary of the meeting at which the breakaway was confirmed in 1895.
Inductee 42 – Tony Collins
In the sport’s 125th anniversary year, the RFL recognised the importance of Collins as an outstanding historian, both of Rugby League in particular, and of the sport’s social and cultural significance.
He has been a sage to the RFL, and to many others in the sport – for example Rugby League Cares, and the Rugby League World Cup – for many years. He is regarded as one of the leading historians not only of Rugby League, but of both codes of rugby, and indeed in sport as a whole – and has therefore become an eloquent advocate for the sport.
He was born in Hull, into a Hull Kingston Rovers family. He was taken to a couple of Hull Dockers fixtures by his dad before attending his first Rovers match, against Featherstone, in October 1969. He was immediately hooked – by being part of a crowd; by the sport he was watching; and especially by Roger Millward.
He lives in Leeds now, and is emeritus professor of history at De Montfort University in Leicester, a Research Fellow at the Institute of Sports Humanities and also a visiting professor at Beijing Sports University.
His books have won the Aberdare Prize for Sports History four times since 1999, and he has been a consultant to numerous TV and radio programmes, including BBC Radio 4's 30-part 2012 series Sport and the British with Clare Balding.
In addition to his work in Rugby League, Tony is a member of the RFU's World Rugby Museum sub-committee, and from April 2017 to March 2019 he was a member of the Yorkshire and Humber committee of the Heritage Lottery Fund.
This year, he has been a key figure as the RFL sought to celebrate the sport’s 125th anniversary in fitting style. Much of that work has been behind the scenes, but he joined a redoubtable panel also featuring Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Dave Woods and Kath Hetherington to consider some of the greatest names and occasions in the history of Rugby League.
He has also written a number of significant books including: Rugby's Great Split; Rugby League in Twentieth Century Britain; A Social History of English Rugby Union ; The Oval World: A Global History of Rugby; and in 2020 Rugby League: A People’s History.
Inductee 43 – Emma Rosewarne
When Emma Rosewarne stepped down as Head of Welfare for Rugby League Cares in April 2020, it brought to an end almost four decades of unsung service to the game in a wide range of roles – although it was as a champion for the importance of player welfare that she left her greatest legacy.
Tony Adams MBE, who was RFL President at the time and had worked especially closely with Emma in establishing close links between his Sporting Chance charity and Rugby League, said: “Emma Rosewarne embodies all that has been good in the development of player welfare in sport over the last two decades.
“I have no hesitation in suggesting that this unsung hero has been one of the most influential women in sport in my lifetime. Her work has not only changed lives; it has saved them.”
Emma joined the Rugby Football League in the Operations Department way back in 1983, when the governing body was based on Chapeltown Road in Leeds, and David Oxley was the Chief Executive.
By 1988, she had moved to a role as Head of Player Personnel – at a time when the game was grappling with the introduction of contracts.
That role also involved her first work on anti-doping and concussion, with the importance of player welfare already a key theme.
She was promoted to a new role as Administration Executive in 1993, which included lead responsibility for Events (such as Internationals and the Challenge Cup Final), all Operations and briefly Match Officials, in the period between the departure of Fred Lindop, and the arrival of Greg McCallum.
In 2006 she was given a central role in the implementation of the Salary Cap, rolling out the introduction of the live cap, while she led the development of the RFL’s Safeguarding policy, and also drove the sport’s recognition of the importance of Equality and Diversity.
Welfare became an increasing focus, and in 2019 she was seconded by the RFL to RL Cares as they took lead responsibility for the delivery of player welfare in the game.
Since stepping down from that role in April 2020, she has continued to work one day each week for the RFL in a new role as Medical Co-Ordinator, working with clubs and other stakeholders to drive forward medical standards in the game.
Rugby League Roll of Honour in full:
Robert W Stott
Natalie Gilmore MBE
HH Judge James Spencer
Tim Adams MBE
Jackie Reid MBE
Martin Coyd OBE
Fred Lindop MBE
Ray French MBE
Bev Risman OBE
Harold Swift MBE
Johnny Whiteley MBE