Deborah Griffin is set to make history in 2025 and become the Rugby Football Union’s first female president.
The landmark appointment of Griffin, an RFU council member since 2010 and one of the first female representatives on World Rugby’s council, will coincide with England hosting the women’s World Cup in two years’ time.
Telegraph Sport understands that the presidential succession plan for the next three seasons will be ratified at an RFU council AGM on June 16. Rob Briers will succeed incumbent Nigel Gillingham on August 1, with Rob Udwin taking over from Briers as senior vice-president and Griffin his junior. From August 2024, Udwin will move up to president before Griffin makes history a year later.
In 2021, the RFU’s diversity and inclusion advisory group identified that, compared to the overall adult population in England, women are less likely to participate or be interested in rugby union - and they, alongside other minority groups, have experienced more discrimination. In this regard, Griffin’s appointment would be a significant boost to the profile of women’s rugby, both at home and abroad.
Griffin, whose rugby journey started as a player at University College London 45 years ago, is a pioneer of the women’s game, having founded the Women’s Rugby Football Union in 1983 and chaired the organisation of the first women’s World Cup in 1991. Griffin captained the first English women’s club side before eventually overseeing the WRFU’s full integration with the RFU in 2012. Griffin is also bursar at Homerton College, Cambridge University.
Briers is a past president of Lancashire County and played for West Park St Helens, Lancashire, North West Counties, the North of England and England U23s, while Udwin is an RFU representative to Rugby Europe, where he is a vice president, a member of the board of directors and chairman of the rugby commission.
After a successful 2010 showpiece, England will host the women’s World Cup for the second time in 2025, the 10th edition of the tournament. New Zealand are the reigning champions following their victory against a 14-player Red Roses in the 2021 final at Eden Park, Auckland.