Parliamentary Rugby League Group gears up for General Election
The Parliamentary Rugby League Group has released its final three meeting dates and post-meeting speakers before the May General Election.
The Group’s Chairman has also revealed a series of new high-profile Associate Members will be announced over coming days.
The final meetings of the current Parliament are:
- January 27: Hull KR CEO Mike Smith
- February 24: Hong Kong Rugby League Treasurer Ray Meli
- March 24: Leeds Rhinos CEO Gary Hetherington
The Group, which meets monthly in the Houses of Parliament when the lower chamber is sitting, is technically known as an ‘All-Party Parliamentary Group’ as it welcomes Members of Parliament of all political parties and works cross-party to deliver its goal to “support the sport of rugby league football”. It currently has around 70 Members of both Houses of Parliament and after the General Election will be reconstituted by returning and new MPs, with Members of either chamber eligible to stand for an officer position.
Looking back over the current Parliament, the Group’s Chairman, Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland, said “this Parliament has seen the Rugby League Group grow, both in terms of the number of MPs and Peers involved or receiving information about the Group, as well as Associate Members who have joined. I am looking forward to the announcements we are about to make of more clubs and bodies that have joined the Group and I encourage more people, clubs and other organisations to get involved.
“With more involvement, we are able to do a lot more and we have had some great successes in the last five years, including helping to secure funding for the World Cup and forcing the BBC to change its position on dropping live local radio coverage of sport.”
“Groups like ours are not publicly funded, so we are grateful to all the partners we have had over that period that have enabled us to deliver our work to support the game. Particular tribute goes to the RFL who have supported the Group, despite our sometimes not seeing eye-to-eye.”
Mulholland paid tribute to those in the Group standing down at the Election, saying “we’re losing a great many friends of rugby league from the House of Commons including James Clappison, one of our Vice-Chairmen; former Sports Minister and Group Secretary Gerry Sutcliffe; Sir Tony Cunningham; and Dave Watts to name a few. They and others not returning in the next Parliament will always be welcome in the Group and I hope that whomever is elected in their place will be as passionate about our game as they are. If I am returned to Parliament, I will certainly be encouraging all my colleagues – new and old – to get involved with this Group.”
Concluding, Mulholland added “I am sure that the next Parliament – which will see the Group’s 30th Anniversary – will continue as this Parliament ends, with outstanding speakers and growing ever stronger.”