Leeds Rhinos Foundation has paid tribute to its Life President David Oxley CBE, who has passed away aged 85.
David was appointed as the charity’s first Chairman when it formed in 2005 and was later named as Lifetime President. He had been involved in Rugby League for most of his life and joined the RFL in 1974 and led its modernisation and transformation before leaving in 1992 at the compulsory retirement age of 55. He remained closely involved, and was appointed to the ceremonial role of President for 2013-14, a period which included the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.
Phil Caplan, chair of trustees, Leeds Rhinos Foundation said: “Everyone at the Leeds Rhinos Foundation – trustees, senior management and staff – are devastated to hear of the passing of lifetime president David Oxley, OCE. David was the inaugural chair of the organisation in 2005 and his leadership, guidance and vision were vital in establishing and enabling it to grow into the body it has become today. In his words, Leeds Rhinos Foundation became ‘the finest of its type in sport and a really big player in the community, especially with vulnerable people’ and that was in no small part due to him.
“His advice was always welcome, measured, perfectly pitched and his contacts within and outside sport invaluable. We will miss having his uplifting presence and countenance available to us. Sincerest condolences are sent to his family and friends.”
Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington added: “On behalf of everyone at Leeds Rhinos I would like to send condolences to all David’s friends and family. David was appointed as the game’s first Secretary General in the early 1980s when professional Rugby League was at a low ebb . He soon became the ‘face of the game’ and an inspirational figure who served the game so well for nearly two decades.”