a headshot of John Steele

John Steele awarded OBE in Queen’s Birthday Honours

John Steele, Loughborough University’s Executive Director of Sport, has been recognised for his services to sport in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Steele has been awarded an OBE following an illustrious career in sport which started as a professional rugby player.

During his playing days, Steele faced opposition that included the New Zealand All Blacks, South African Springboks and Australian Wallabies.

After hanging up his boots, he moved into coaching and successfully led Northampton Saints to become European Champions in 2000.

He has had various leadership roles in sport, including Chief Executive at UKSport, the Rugby Football Union (RFU), and the Youth Sport Trust. Steele’s leadership experience has also extended to ten Olympic and Paralympic Games in various roles.

He has also served as a non-executive director on several sports Boards, and recently finished his second term as Chair of the English Institute of Sport after eight years’ service.

In April, it was announced that he would take over as the next Chair of Commonwealth Games England following the 2022 Games in Birmingham. 

Steele is now in his seventh year as Executive Director of Sport at Loughborough University, which has been named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects for the fifth year running by the global QS higher education league table.

Commenting on his award, Steele said:

“I feel very fortunate and privileged to have been recognised in this way. I have worked with some wonderful people in my career so far and have enjoyed being part of a constantly evolving sporting landscape.

“To be awarded this honour is very unexpected, but I am now really looking forward to what I am sure will be an exciting day for my family and me.”

In related news, the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bob Allison, has also been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to education and to supporting young people’s talent, equality and achievement. Read the press release here.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 21/101

Notes for editors

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2021 QS World University Rankings and University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 7th in the Guardian University League Table 2021, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 and 6th in The UK Complete University Guide 2021.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.