Lion becomes League President

Many great British & Irish Lions have gone on to become President of their respective Unions, or chairman of the IRB, but 1959 tourist Bev Risman has broken new ground by being named as the new President of the Rugby Football League. [more]

Lion becomes League President

Many great British & Irish Lions have gone on to become President of their respective Unions, or chairman of the IRB, but 1959 tourist Bev Risman has broken new ground by being named as the new President of the Rugby Football League.

The 72-year-old dual code international toured Australia and New Zealand with the Lions in the same year he broke into the England side at outside half while still a student at Loughborough Colleges.

He made his England debut against Wales in a 5-0 defeat in Cardiff and retained his place throughout a Five Nations series that saw England beat Ireland in Dublin before drawing both fixtures against France and Scotland.

In the win over the Irish he partnered Dickie Jeeps at half-back and they were to go on and play in two Test victories for the Lions in Australia and a one point defeat against the All Blacks later in the year.

Risman was still only 21 when he was selected to make the four and a half month tour to Australasia, but he became the first choice outside half and scored 59 points in 13 matches, including a match winning try in the fourth test victory over New Zealand.

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Although he was born in Salford, and educated at Cockermouth Grammar School, Risman had Welsh rugby running through his veins. His father, the Rugby League great Gus Risman, played 17 times for Great Britain in the 13-a-side code and was one of the legendary figures at the Salford club.

One of the original inductees into Rugby League’s Hall of Fame, Gus hailed from Cardiff’s Tiger Bay area and captained Wales many times in his 18 cap league career. He spent 25 seasons in professional rugby league, while his son only managed 10 with Leigh and Leeds.

Bev signed for Leigh RLFC from Manchester RFC in 1961 having won the last of his six England caps in another defeat against Wales. From Leigh he moved on to Leeds and followed in the footsteps of his father in winning the Challenge Cup, Championship and captaining Great Britain.

He captained Great Britain at the 1968 Rugby League World Cup in Australia and describing leading the side out at the Sydney Cricket Ground as the biggest thrill of his life.

The Risman family story also includes Welsh international honours for Bev’s son, John, who played three times for Wales as well as being a ‘dual’ Oxford University Blue, while his brother John is currently President of the Scotland Rugby League Union.

When his playing career ended, Risman remained heavily involved in rugby league. After two years managing the new Fulham club in the 1980s, he was appointed director of the Student RL Union and went on to be director of development at Super League London Broncos.

He was one of the founders of the Summer Conference League, set up to expand the game's horizons, and he also had a spell as chairman of Carlisle Centurions. He is still a trustee of the RL Foundation, the game’s charity body, and becomes the first person to become President of the RFL from outside the Rugby League .

“This is the greatest honour I have ever had. It was an emotional moment when I was elected president of the RFL and I feel proud and privileged to be given this opportunity,” said Risman.

“It’s going to be an exciting year in my life and I’m looking forward to carrying out all my duties as RFL President.”

Bev Risman’s British & Irish Lions Record

Overall: Played 13;  Won 10;  Lost 3 – 59 points (5T,16C,4P)
Tests: Played 4; Won 3; Lost 1 – 10 points (2T,2C)

23/05/1959      Victoria                            18 – 53            Lions    (19 pts – 2T,5C,1P)

30/05/1959      New South Wales         18 – 14            Lions    (2 pts – 1C)

06/06/1959      Australia                           6 – 17            Lions    (2 pts – 1C)

13/06/1959      Australia                           3 – 24            British & Irish Lions   (3 pts – 1T)

27/06/1959      Auckland                        10 – 15            Lions                 

01/07/1959      NZ Universities             13 – 25            Lions               

18/07/1959      New Zealand                18 – 17            British & Irish Lions      (2 pts – 1C)

25/07/1959      Canterbury                    20 – 14            Lions    (8 pts – 1C,2P)

01/08/1959      Wellington                       6 – 21            Lions    (9 pts – 1T,3C)

05/08/1959      Wanganui                        6 – 9              Lions    (3 pts – 1P)

11/08/1959      Manawatu/Horowhenua 6 – 26         Lions    (8 pts 4C)

12/09/1959      North Auckland             13 – 35           Lions               

19/09/1959      New Zealand                    6 – 9            British & Irish Lions      (3 pts – 1T)

 

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