Ex-Barking prop Leonard is named as new chairman of iconic British & Irish Lions

PUBLISHED: 14:00 19 April 2019

Former Barking prop Jason Leonard is the new chairman of the British & Irish Lions (pic: Chris Radburn/PA)

Former Barking prop Jason Leonard is the new chairman of the British & Irish Lions (pic: Chris Radburn/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

World Cup winner began his playing career with the Gale Street side

Former Barking prop Jason Leonard has been appointed as the new chairman of the British & Irish Lions.

Leonard, formerly the president of the Rugby Football Union (RFU), takes over in the role from Tom Grace.

The 50-year-old was part of the Lions tours in 1993, 1997 and 2001 during his career, so will bring both a player and an administrator's perspective to the role.

“I am honoured to be asked to be the chairman of the British & Irish Lions,” said Leonard.

“I look forward to working with my fellow board members, former Lions and the executive team to make the 2021 Lions tour to South Africa a success on and off the pitch.

“I am excited to build on the great work done by my predecessor Tom Grace and would like to thank him for his guidance and dedication over the last number of years.”

Leonard's first taste of Lions action came on the 1993 tour of New Zealand as part of a large England contingent in the pack, being selected for the second and third Tests.

The prop appeared off the bench in the first Lions Test of the historic series win in South Africa in 1997 and did the same against Australia in two Tests four years later.

Leonard also made history with his country amidst a prolonged 14-year career, claiming a quartet of Grand Slams in the Six Nations alongside his World Cup success in 2003.

A former President of Barking, the 50-year-old served on the RFU Council as national member from 2006 and as president in 2015-2016.

Leonard was awarded an MBE in 2002 and an OBE in 2004 for services to sport and has been inducted in the World Rugby Hall of Fame.

The prop was also the second recipient of The Prince Obolensky Award, presented by The Prince Obolensky Association to those in rugby who embody the Corinthian spirit.

“I would like to congratulate Jason on his appointment and am looking forward to working closely with him in the coming years,” said Lions managing director Ben Calveley.

“His huge experience as a winning Lion, respected globally as one of the greats of the game, coupled with his business acumen will provide us with the insight required to organise a successful Tour to South Africa.”

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