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Wheeler named as new RFU president

Former Leicester Tigers and England captain Peter Wheeler will become the President of the Rugby Football Union this summer.

Wheeler’s appointment, in succession to present incumbent Chris Kelly, was confirmed at the RFU’s Annual General Meeting on Friday. He was previously RFU Senior Vice President and Junior Vice President.

After joining Leicester in 1969, Wheeler became one of the leading players of his generation, leading Tigers to a hat-trick of National Knockout Cup wins and gaining 41 caps for England, five as captain, as well as representing the British & Irish Lions.

He went on to serve the club as coach and then chief executive when the game went professional in 1996, remaining in that role until 2010. Wheeler was also Tigers’ rugby director until he retired in 2015, becoming a life member.

His association with Welford Road stretches to half a century and he led his former team-mates in a return to the stadium earlier this year to celebrate the 40th anniversary of that first Cup win at Twickenham.

Wheeler was inducted into the Premiership Rugby Hall of Fame for his contribution to the professional club game and his role in its development with Tigers, Premiership Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the Professional Game Board. 

“Peter Wheeler has been a tremendous servant of rugby and an outstanding ambassador for our game over many years," said outgoing office-holder Kelly. "He will be an excellent President as we head into the Rugby World Cup in Japan, a country he knows well.”

Wheeler thanked Kelly for all his work on behalf of the game, saying: "As RFU President, Chris has travelled the country and beyond, representing the Union and promoting our sport in a season which saw us host New Zealand a century after the Armistice remembering the players from both our nations who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. On behalf of the Union I would like to thank him for all that he has done for the sport.”