From player to President: Nigel Gillingham OBE elected as RFU President

An image showing Nigel Gillingham at Twickenham wearing the RFU Presidential blazer and tie.

Alumnus Nigel Gillingham OBE (Physical Education 1977) has been active in the rugby world for almost 50 years. He has progressed from a star player to administration within the Rugby Football Union and will soon take up the role of President.

Over his long career as a player, Nigel is probably best known as a second rower for Premiership Rugby team, Leicester Tigers. He joined the team in 1978 following his captainship with the Loughborough 1st XV Rugby team where he played in a club record of 110 games, while additionally gaining honours with England Schoolboys and England Under-23s. Following 145 first-team appearances, in 1984 Nigel hung up his boots for the Leicester Tigers and progressed through the ranks of the Rugby Football Union (RFU).

I‌mage: Nigel Gillingham (bottom row, centre)

Nigel became the RFU’s representative on the RFU Council in 1999 until 2008 when he retired from the Royal Air Force which he had served in since leaving university. Over the past 10 years, he has served as a Gloucestershire RFU Council representative, chaired the Game Development Sub-Committee, been a member of the Community Game Board, the Governance Standing Committee, and the International Rugby Tickets Sub-Committee. In 2019, Nigel became the RFU’s Junior Vice President, and soon moved onto his current role as Senior Vice President in 2020. He will commence his role as RFU President this summer as current President Jeff Blackett retires.

We recently spoke to Nigel to congratulate him on being elected to the prestigious position. When asked his thoughts, he said:

“It is a huge honour and privilege to be elected as the RFU’s President. I am very grateful to all who have supported me throughout my involvement in this great game, particularly during my formative years at Loughborough, then at Leicester Tigers and in the RAF. 

“Rugby has given me many things – rugby’s core values, tremendous friendships, and lots of enjoyment. Wherever you are, you always receive the warmest of welcomes in a rugby club from the countless numbers of rugby people who give so much for the good of our game and their communities.”