World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont says that he is “honoured and humbled” after being formally made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle in the presence of his family.

Beaumont, who was named in The King’s New Year’s honours list in December 2023, was awarded at the investiture in the presence of his wife Hilary and sons Daniel, Sam and Josh.

The knighthood is bestowed for his achievements in a life dedicated to the advancement of rugby worldwide and services to charity.

The investiture comes at an exciting and important time for Beaumont and the sport. Elected Chairman of World Rugby in 2016, Beaumont wasted no time in acting on his mandate in cementing rugby as an accessible, relevant and player welfare-led sport.

Now in his second term, he has presided over a period of global growth and advancement, particularly among young people and women in emerging rugby nations, and in new and accessible formats of the game reaching new audiences. Much of this has been achieved against the unprecedented challenge of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Determined to ensure the strong foundations are in place to support a growing global game, Beaumont has driven transformational governance reform that has seen an expansion of national union, region, gender and player inclusivity across the sport’s highest decision-making body, the World Rugby Council and its committee structures.

An expansionist, Beaumont has also presided over record-breaking and transformational men’s and women’s Rugby World Cups in Japan (2019), New Zealand (2022) and France (2023) respectively. He has also presided over reform of the Rugby World Cup hosting model, paving the way for greater long-term financial certainty, and confirming the expansion of the Women’s Rugby World Cup from 12 to 16 teams at the 2025 edition in England and from 20 to 24 teams at the next men’s edition in Australia in 2027.

The most recent achievement came towards the end of 2023, rugby’s 200th anniversary year, with confirmation of long-term international calendar harmony and new competition structures that provided greater opportunity for emerging nations, while providing financial certainty for all unions. As a former player with a passion for grassroots rugby, key decisions have been taken with player welfare and wellbeing at heart, with advancements in head injury research, management and prevention viewed as sport-leading.

A family and rugby man through and through, World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Beaumont can often be found at his beloved Fylde Rugby Club or watching son Josh play for Sale Sharks. He has always championed the community game and has made it his mission as Chairman of World Rugby and formerly as Chairman of the RFU to make the sport as accessible and relevant to play and support as possible at all levels. He was recently announced as the Patron of the RFU Injured Players’ Foundation.

For many fans Beaumont is best-known for his playing exploits. He made his debut for England in 1975, going on to win 34 caps and leading England to their first Grand Slam for 33 years in 1980. He also captained the British and Irish Lions and later managed them on the tour to New Zealand in 2005.

Beaumont said: “What an incredibly special day to have been made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales in the presence of my family. I am humbled and honoured to have received this accolade for services to a sport that I love.

“For me, rugby is the ultimate team sport and this accolade is as much recognition for our rugby family as a whole, and all who work tirelessly in the sport, as it is for me. It is that sense of family and togetherness that has driven me to do the very best I can for the sport, our players, our coaches, our match officials, our fans, and all those who give up their time to volunteer at community club level, which will always be the heartbeat of our sport around the world.

“Rugby has been my life for more than half a century and has given me so much joy as a player, a father and grandfather to rugby-playing sons and a granddaughter, and as an administrator. I am very fortunate to be in a position to give back to the sport I love, and I am as passionate now about rugby as I was when representing Fylde, Lancashire, England or the British and Irish Lions.

“I have said it many times – in my opinion, rugby is the ultimate team sport – a sport with strong values and where the team is always greater than the individual. I have been blessed to have played and worked with incredible people along the way who share the same passion for the betterment of the sport as I do. There is one person who has been at my side, a constant support from my playing days to now, my wife Hilary. She is my inspiration and rock.”

Beaumont was awarded a knighthood in 2018, having previously been appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2008 and Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1982. He is also Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire.

Photo: Getty Images