Huddersfield Giants star Michael Lawrence is helping spearhead a drive for inclusivity in rugby league.
The Huddersfield-born Jamaican international forward will be a member of the RL Inclusion Board announced this week.
The board is part of a drive within the sport to tackle issues of diversity, inclusion and discrimination. Michael, 30, is a one-club man having made his debut for the Giants in 2008 aged 17. He was awarded a testimonial in 2019 and has made over 250 appearances for the club in a career which saw him lift the League Leaders’ Shield.
The board has members drawn from the media, business, education and retail and will meet four times a year. Members will oversee progress of TACKLE IT – Rugby League versus Discrimination, an action plan on how the sport will extend its reach, appeal and diversity.
RFL chairman Simon Johnson said: “Through TACKLE IT the whole game has made a commitment to meet discrimination head on and break down any barriers to involvement in Rugby League. The new Inclusion Board members can help make sure this happens and I am delighted to welcome them to the RFL. They are all enthusiastic champions of diversity, inclusion, equality and anti-discrimination campaigning, and will be a tremendous asset to our sport both as individuals and as a group.
“TACKLE IT is an action plan developed by the game, for the game – the result of listening and learning from people across Rugby League. Their insight, honesty and commitment got us to this point, from here on it’s down to all of us to deliver.
“I’ve been asked ‘what does success look like?’. It is a game that is fully representative of its communities, and where we make the most of the immense talent, passion, skills and experience which exists. This work complements, and accelerates, our work on the gender balance in our sport, and LGBQT and disability inclusion.”
Other members on the board include:
- Mr Aaqil Ahmed – Media Consultant
- Ms Aisha Suleiman – Education Programme Manager, Amazon Web Services; Chair and Executive Board Lead, Amazon Black Employee Network
- Mr Alex Simmons – Alex Simmons, formerly of Rugby AM and currently head of diversity with In Diverse Company and Operations Director for Jamaica men’s Rugby League team .Mr Chris Gibbons – Director, Inside Inclusion
- Mr John Hughes – Director of Partnerships and Communities, Community Integrated Care
- Mr Michael Lawrence – Professional Rugby League player, Huddersfield Giants
- Ms Nikunj Upadhyay – Group Head of Inclusion and Diversity, Wates Group
- Dr Rimla Akhtar MBE – RFL Non-Executive Director and Inclusion Board Chair