Rugby league's Stephen Ball and Nigel Wood receive Queen's birthday honours
Rugby league stalwarts Stephen Ball and Nigel Wood have received Queen’s birthday honours.
Ball, general manager of the sport’s Benevolent Fund, has been made an MBE for services to rugby league charities and Bradford Bulls chairman Nigel Wood received an OBE for services to rugby league football.
A former chairman of Hunslet, chief executive of Hull FC and Batley Bulldogs and director of both the RFL and Leeds Rhinos, Ball said he is “truly humbled” by his award.
“I think it’s a reflection of the values of rugby league as a sport,” he added.
“I’ve said before that we may not be the richest in the orthodox sense, because of the communities where the game has been strongest – but we are rich in values, and we take care of our own.
“That has been the role of the Benevolent Fund since it was established and it has been an honour and a privilege to work with so many brave people as they have come to terms with personal tragedy.
“To receive this recognition is a huge surprise to me, and I am genuinely moved.”
Benevolent Fund chairman Tim Adams MBE said: “I know I’m speaking on behalf of many people in the sport when I say this honour for Stephen Ball is richly deserved.
“He is indeed an unsung hero, who fulfils a crucial and challenging role.
“When tragedy strikes in or around the game, Stephen is the game’s representative at the front door.
“He does that with compassion and sincerity and has built lasting trust and friendships with all the families who have been helped by the Benevolent Fund.
“He is the best of rugby league.”
Wood spent 18 years with the Rugby Football League, 12 of them as chief executive, after six years with Halifax during the early years of Super League.
He started in the game as a ball boy, then a player and a volunteer with the Pennine League.
“I am surprised, humbled and extremely honoured to be recognised like this,” he said.
“It has been the privilege of my life to have served the sport that I love across a number of positions over the years.”