Bill Beaumont is set to join Sir Clive Woodward and Sir Ian McGheechan as rugby knights. He has been announced in the New Year’s honours list for his services to rugby. Here at Last Word on Rugby, we have decided to pay tribute to the great man by charting his life and career in anticipation of his award.
Early Life and Club Rugby
Bill Beaumont was born in Chorley Lancashire on the 9th March 1952. He attended Cressbrook school, then Ellesmere College where he began playing rugby. He was joined at Cressbrook by another British and Irish Lion in John Spencer.
Beaumont played all his club rugby for Flyde Rugby Club. He began playing in 1969 when he was 17 years old and retired in 1982. Alongside Beaumont, Flyde also boasted another international home-grown talent in Malcom Phillips. Philips amassed 27 caps in his playing career and like Beaumont went on to become a rugby administrator in his retirement.
International and Lions Honours
Beaumont received his first cap as a replacement for Roger Uttley against Ireland as a 22-year-old. He went on to receive 34 caps which was a record for a second-row at the time. He also appeared for the Barbarians 15 times captaining them on 5 occasions.
Beaumont first captained his country in 1978. This began a period of unanticipated success for England, although only short-lived. Beaumont captained his side to their first grand slam in 23 years 1980. He then backed it up with a second place finish the next year.
Beaumont also enjoyed representative honours in two Lions’ tours. He was called in as a late replacement during the 1977 series against the All Blacks and played in 3 of the 4 Tests, notching a victory in one of them.
He then went on to captain the Lions in South Africa in 1980. Beaumont was unable to prevent his side from falling to a 3-1 series defeat. However, he played in 10 of the 18 matches and joined an elite group of individuals that have captained the Lions.
Life after Rugby; media and administration
Beaumont was forced to retire in 1982 after a series of severe concussions. Due to his profile and reputation within the game Beaumont was able to transition into TV and media work, becoming the longest-running captain on England’s A Question of Sport.
In 2012 he became the chairman of the RFU. Further to this in 2016 Beaumont was unanimously elected as chairman of World Rugby. During his time at the RFU Beaumont was tasked with preparations for hosting the 2015 World Cup. His focus was on securing a legacy for the event. His work in this field has been largely applauded.
As Chairman of World Rugby Beaumont has overseen rugby’s reintroduction to the Olympics and is currently managing preparations for the first World Cup in Asia. Alongside Agustin Pichot, Beaumont aimed to ensure that during a period of growth for the sport the key core values of Rugby remained strong.
Bill Beaumont – concluding thoughts
Rugby is clearly in Bill Beaumont’s DNA as he has shown that both on and off the field. He was an inspirational captain for his country and the Lions. He put his time back into the game in order to make a difference. Beaumont has also committed a lot of time to charity work, using his positions to further worthy causes.
Overall Bill Beaumont is a well-deserved recipient of his knighthood. All of us at Last Word on Rugby would like to extend our congratulations to him as a result.
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