Sport pays tribute to retiring player welfare champion Emma Rosewarne

Sport pays tribute to retiring player welfare champion Emma Rosewarne

Rugby League has united today to pay tribute to Emma Rosewarne, who steps down as Head of Welfare for Rugby League Cares after almost four decades of full-time service to the game in a wide range of roles.

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.

But for all those crucial contributions, it is in the area of Player Welfare that Emma has made perhaps her most significant contribution to the game in this country and beyond – and certainly that is the area which has given her the greatest satisfaction.

She will continue 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.

Tony Adams MBE, who has worked especially closely with Emma in the establishment of the close links between his Sporting Chance charity and Rugby League which led to his election as RFL President last year, led the tributes.

“Emma Rosewarne embodies all that has been good in the development of player welfare in sport over the last two decades,” he said.

“At Sporting Chance, we have been privileged to be part of this journey with her over the last ten years.

“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.

“Rugby League is a tough, uncompromising sport, played by tough men and women. Creating a safe and professional place for these warriors to speak has been our work. The legacy of Emma Rosewarne will live on in Rugby League and in all sports that choose to learn from this great sport for generations.

“Thank You Emma.”

Ralph Rimmer, the Chief Executive of the RFL, added: “Tony’s comments sum up the contribution Emma has made to the sport of Rugby League, and the impact she has made well beyond our sport.

“It’s a privilege to speak on behalf of the many administrators with whom she has worked, starting with David Oxley back in 1983 – but also, I know, on behalf of the thousands of Rugby League players, coaches and staff who she has helped.

“She is caring, considerate – and occasionally fierce – and it’s that combination which has allowed us to drive forward the welfare agenda.

“Emma would be the first to stress that at this point, the sport and the nation needs to be focused on the public health crisis, and the unprecedented challenges it presents. But it is still right that we take this opportunity to recognise her contribution.

“I am delighted that she will continue to work with us, meaning the sport can continue to draw on her wealth of experience and expertise.”

Rugby League Cares Chairman Tim Adams MBE said: “In many ways Rugby League is regarded as a model of best practice when it comes to player welfare and that is largely down to the commitment, dedication and professionalism of Emma Rosewarne.

“Emma joined the charity last year when we took on full responsibility for delivering player welfare services to the professional and semi-professional game, and it has been a privilege to work alongside her.

“She leaves with two generations of Rugby League players, and many of their predecessors, owing her a debt of gratitude. The sport has made huge strides in player welfare delivery mainly because Emma really cares.

“Her legacy is already being reflected in the work we are doing to safeguard the health and welfare of the sport’s most important stakeholders, the players, during the coronavirus pandemic.

“In people like Steve McCormack and Francis Stephenson, we have the personnel in place who can build on the outstanding work that Emma has done in the years to come.

“We wish Emma sincere best wishes on her retirement.”