Former US Portsmouth stalwart appointed president of the RFU

Former US Portsmouth stalwart Jeff Blackett has been appointed president of the RFU.

Sunday, 14th June 2020, 5:53 pm
Updated Sunday, 14th June 2020, 5:55 pm
Jeff Blackett (centre right) in action for United Services Portsmouth against Plymouth Albion at Burnaby Road. Date unknown.

He will officially take over from Peter Wheeler on August 1.

His appointment was confirmed at the governing body’s AGM, which was held virtually.

Blackett’s roles in rugby have included being treasurer, chairman and president of US Portsmouth, a club he also played for.

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He has also served as treasurer, selector and chairman for the Royal Navy Rugby Union and was their representative on the RFU Council from 2000 to 2004.

He was then co-opted to Council as Disciplinary Officer from 2003 -13, was Chairman of Governance from 2014-16, Chairman of the Professional Game Board from 2016-18 and served on the RFU Board of Directors from 2014-18.

Blackett first played rugby in his native city at Portsmouth Grammar School and, in addition to USP, played for University College London, University of London Union, the Royal Navy, Hampshire and St Anne’s and St John’s Oxford.

A barrister, he retired from a distinguished career with the Royal Navy in the rank of Commodore and was Judge Advocate General from 2004-20.

Born in 1955, he joined the Navy in 1973 and during his early career served at sea in guided missile destroyers HMS Kent and HMS London. He also served on frigates HMS Ambuscade and HMS Alacrity.

‘I would like to thank the game for this tremendous honour in the RFU’s 150th season,’ said Blackett.

‘I am the fourth RFU President to come from my club US Portsmouth and I would like to thank them and the Royal Navy Rugby Union for lifetime friendships and for giving me the opportunity to serve the game in so many roles.

‘I take on this role at a very challenging time for our sport and my priority over the next year is to support our clubs to ensure they emerge from the current crisis in the best possible position.’

‘I also want to thank our retiring President Peter Wheeler who was one of the greatest English hookers of all time who has personified long and outstanding service to the game and the coming together of club and country.

Wheeler said: ‘This season has been one of immense contrasts from the huge success of the England men in reaching the Rugby World Cup final to the very difficult times brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘It’s been so heartening to see the way in which rugby clubs have rallied to support both their members and local communities more widely, perfectly reflecting all that is great about rugby’s values.

‘I would like to wish Jeff all the best for his term as RFU president.’