Former England international rugby player Jason Leonard has revealed that becoming RFU President would rival that of any of his playing achievements, including the 2003 World Cup he won with England. Leonard has claimed 114 caps for his international side making him the most capped forward in world rugby and now he has the opportunity to be an RFU president. Last month the RFU council had a meeting and during this a vote was made which nominated Jason Leonard to become the new junior vice-president ahead of former England Captain John Spencer.
The appointment of the 44-year-old to be the junior vice-president, who played with the Lions in 1993, 1997 and 2001, still has to be confirmed by vote at the RFU’s annual general meeting in July. Leonard is not expected to have any major rivals in the race for vice-presidency. Jason Leonard admitted that, “To go forward for the role of junior vice-president, which in turn will be president in 2015 is a huge honour. I am just as proud of this achievement as I am of any my achievements on the rugby field. I am just delighted I can carry on serving the game.”
Leonard is the only player so far from the professional era to become a president in the governing body. Leonard told the press that he has been praised and congratulated from all around the world, from his old team-mates to old international players he played against. “I got messages of support and congratulations from a number of barking ex-players but not only barking or Essex clubs. They came from up and down the country and even from around the world from former international opponents. At one stage I received so many emails and messages that it blocked up my phone for a while.”
The fact that Leonard is a very popular figure and is recognised more than many sport personalities in rugby possibly tilted the RFU councils vote in his favour giving him the winning edge. The RFU wants the 2015 Rugby World Cup to have a rise in the audience viewing as it is going to be held in England and they believe Leonard can contribute to that. Leonard talks about getting a rise in views of the World Cup saying, “It will be a case of trying everything. It is such an important year that I want to be hands-on in as many areas as possible. You have the rugby itself but the legacy of the World Cup is equally as important.” Jason Leonard also expressed how he would “love to see this current England side win the World Cup in 2015.”