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Rugby News

Ex-Tigers lock is Union senior vice-president

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His Honour Judge Jeff Blackett will follow Peter Wheeler as RFU President from August.

Reflecting on the past year, outgoing RFU President Wheeler, a former captain, coach and chief executive at Leicester Tigers, said: “This season has been one of immense contrasts, from the huge success of the England men in reaching the Rugby World Cup Final to the very difficult times brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“It’s been so heartening to see the way in which rugby clubs have rallied to support their members and local communities more widely, perfectly reflecting all that is great about rugby’s values.   

“I would like to wish Jeff all the best for his term as RFU President.” 

Another former Tigers forward, Nigel Gillingham, was confirmed as Senior Vice President at the RFU’s annual general meeting held this week.

Gillingham, made 145 appearances for Tigers from 1978 to '84, while serving in the RAF where he reached the rank of Group Captain. He played in two John Player Cup Finals for the club, and was RAF representative on the RFU committee as well as sitting on its management board.

A barrister, Jeff Blackett retired from a distinguished career with the Royal Navy in the rank of Commodore and was Judge Advocate General from 2004-20. His roles in rugby have included being treasurer, selector and chairman for the Royal Navy Rugby Union and their representative on the RFU Council 2000-04. He was co-opted to the Council as disciplinary officer from 2003 -13, chairman of governance 2014-16, chairman of the Professional Game Board 2016-18 and served on the RFU Board from 2014-18. 

Looking ahead to his term in office, incoming President, Jeff Blackett said: “I would like to thank the game for this tremendous honour in the RFU’s 150th season. I take on this role at a very challenging time for our sport and my priority over the next year is to support our clubs to ensure they emerge from the current crisis in the best possible position.

“I also want to thank our retiring President Peter Wheeler who was one of the greatest English hookers of all time who has personified long and outstanding service to the game and the coming together of club and country.”