World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont has expressed his gratitude and says that he is “honoured and humbled” after being awarded a knighthood for services to rugby in HM The Queen’s New Year’s honours list.
The honour is in recognition of a champion of rugby, who has dedicated his life to the betterment of the sport on and off the field in both a domestic and global context.
The announcement comes at a particularly exciting time for Beaumont and the sport. Elected Chairman of World Rugby in 2016, Beaumont has wasted no time in acting on his mandate and has presided over a period of record participation, fan and commercial growth, particularly amongst young people in emerging rugby nations.
Determined to ensure the governance, education and coaching structures are in place to support a growing global gamed, Beaumont has driven transformational governance reform that has seen an expansion of union and gender inclusivity in the sport’s highest decision-making body, the World Rugby Council.
He also oversaw historic international eligibility reform that preserves the sanctity of international rugby and long-term international calendar harmony that gives greater opportunity for emerging nations, while providing financial certainty for all unions.
A family and rugby man through and through, World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Beaumont can often be found his beloved Fylde rugby club or watching son Josh play for Sale Sharks. He has always championed the community game, and has made it his mission as Chairman of World Rugby and formerly as Chairman of the RFU to make the sport as accessible and simple to play and support as possible at all levels.
Prior to his election as World Rugby Chairman Beaumont was central to World Rugby’s decision-making bodies for more than a decade, serving as Vice-Chairman from 2007 to 2012, and was a key figure on the World Rugby Council, Executive Committee, Rugby World Cup Board and Rugby Committee bodies.
As RFU chairman, Beaumont presided over the delivery of what will be remembered as the biggest and best Rugby World Cup to date in 2015 – a tournament that attracted over 400,000 international fans and created a nationwide celebration of rugby that delivered record economic, social and participation benefits.
For many fans Beaumont is best-known and loved for his playing exploits. He made his debut for England in 1975 going on to win 34 caps and leading England to their first Grand Slam for 33 years in 1980. He also played for the British and Irish Lions and later managed them on the Tour to New Zealand in 2005.
Beaumont said: “I am honoured and humbled to receive this accolade from Her Majesty the Queen for services to rugby. I have always viewed my work in the sport as an administrator as that of a guardian, driven by a passion to do the very best I can for rugby and the people who give up their time every week on the touchlines at rugby clubs around the world to inspire new generations of players, supporters and volunteers. It is as much recognition for them and all who work in the sport as it is me.”
“Rugby has been my life for more than half a century and has given me so much joy as a player, a father of rugby-playing sons and an administrator. I am fortunate to be in a position to give back to the sport I love and I am as passionate now about rugby as I was when pulling on that Fylde, Lancashire, England or British and Irish Lions jersey.
“Rugby has made great progress on and off the field in recent years and I believe that we are on an incredible journey with significant participation and fan growth, while 2019 is set to be a game-changer as we look ahead to the first Rugby World Cup in Asia.
“In my opinion, rugby is the ultimate team sport – a sport with strong values and where the team is always greater than the individual – and I have been blessed to have played and worked with some superb people along the way who share the same passion for the betterment of the sport. There is, however, one person who has supported me above all else, through thick and thin, from my playing days to now – my wife Hilary – she has is my rock and inspiration.”
Beaumont was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2008, having previously been appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire. He is also Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire.