A RUGBY League pioneer from County Durham who has been described as making an ‘immeasurable’ impact on the sport has received an MBE in the New Year’s Honours.

It was announced last night that Emma Rosewarne, who is from Wearhead, will receive the accolade for her service to Rugby League through her role as head of player welfare and operations director at Rugby Football League over the years.

Since joining the sport in 1983 in an administrative position, she’s worked tirelessly and relentlessly to leave a legacy across numerous sports in the UK.

Read more: Officials accept defeat as Rugby League World Cup set to be postponed until 2022

Through improving safeguarding practises, health awareness, player welfare, equality, and inclusivity, many might not realise that Mrs Rosewarne changed the course of Rugby League for the better – by introducing a raft of measures that has protected generations of players.

At the turn of the millennium, she led the roll out of RFL’s trailblazing Child Safeguarding Policy. Working together with the NSPCC, the important document that was produced and its subsequent practical implementation became the ‘gold standard’ that other sports followed.

It’s this that the 61-year-old is most proud of.

The Northern Echo: Since 1983, Emma has worked on the safety and wellbeing of Rugby League players across the country.Since 1983, Emma has worked on the safety and wellbeing of Rugby League players across the country.

Speaking to The Northern Echo, she said: “I was both surprised and delighted when I found out about the honour. I look upon it as a badge of honour to bring Rugby League to the forefront and get people talking about the sport.

“I’m all for expanding the popularity of the sport in whatever form that takes.

“During my early years in the sport, I wanted to achieve safety enhancements for Rugby League and I feel accomplished and honoured to have done that during my time in the role.

Read more: Rugby League World Cup postponed to 2022

“Even in the pandemic, the whole of Rugby League worked together to ensure everyone was looked after and was safe from Covid-19.”

Safety wasn’t just a concern of Mrs Rosewarne’s, as she took the lead in the development of the sport’s recognition of the importance of equality, inclusivity and diversity which went on to make a massive impact in participation and understanding in rent times.

From 1993 to 2008, she also had lead responsibility for all operational match day matters including the organisation of international matches and the prestigious Challenge Cup Final played at Wembley stadium.

The Northern Echo: Emma has changed the course of player safety in Rugby League for generations of players.Emma has changed the course of player safety in Rugby League for generations of players.

At this time, the County Durham-born rugby ‘trailblazer’ proudly became the first female to be appointed to the Executive Governing Board of any National Sport in the UK.

In 2018 Emma’s outstanding achievements in player welfare were recognised by the All-Party Parliamentary Rugby League Group, who made her an Honorary Life Member, and, in 2020, she was inducted into the RFL Roll of Honour in recognition of her impact on the welfare of players.

When Covid 19 struck, she again unselfishly worked long hours three days a week with Clubs and other stakeholders in the game to implement and monitor practises to keep people safe.

Read more: Rugby League World Cup postponement ‘made sense’

Her impact was adjudged to be so significant that when she retired, Rugby Football League president, Tony Adams said: “Emma Rosewarne embodies all that has been good in the development of player welfare in sport over the last two decades,” he said.

“At Sporting Chance, we have been privileged to be part of this journey with her over the last ten years.

“I have no hesitation in suggesting that this unsung hero has been one of the most influential women in sport in my lifetime.

“Her work has not only changed lives; it has saved them.”

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