Billy becomes Sir Bill Beaumont
In Queen Elizabeth II’s 2019 honours list Billy Beaumont, rugby player and administrator, has been knighted and is now Sir Bill Beaumont.
An enormously popular man, Beaumont had a great playing career – from Ellesmere College to Fylde RFC and Lancashire and on to England, the Barbarians’ and the B&I Lions, and then into administration where he has also risen to the top, all of it crowned by Her Majesty’s recognition.
Loyalty to good people and institutions is a virtue, and Beaumont has an abundance of loyalty. He joined Fylde RFC when he was 17 and it became his only club, where he played, captained and administered. He was only 20 when first chosen for Lancashire.
He was 22 when first chosen to play lock for England and he did so 34 times, 33 times in succession, between 1975 and 1982. He was England’s captain 21 times, including in the 1980 season when they won the Grand Slam in the Five Nations Championship.
In 1975 he was elected to the Barbarians, which tells you that he was the right sort of man.
In 1977 and in 1980 Beaumont toured with the B&I Lions, first to New Zealand and then to South Africa when he was their captain.
His playing days were ended on medical advice after several episodes of concussion.
His administrative career went from Fylde to England and on to the International Rugby Board (IRB) which his now World Rugby. He has been the chairman of England’s RFU since 2012 and its representative in the IRB from 1999 and in 2016 became the chairman of World Rugby .
Beaumont said of his elevation: “I am honoured and humbled to receive this accolade from Her Majesty the Queen for services to rugby,” said the 66-year-old Beaumont.
“Rugby has been my life for more than half a century and has given me so much joy as a player, a father of rugby-playing sons and an administrator. I am 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 pulling on that Fylde, Lancashire, England or British and Irish Lions jersey.
“In my opinion, rugby is the ultimate team sport – a sport with strong values and where the team is always greater than the individual – and I have been blessed to have played and worked with some superb people along the way who share the same passion for the betterment of the sport. There is, however, one person who has supported me above all else, through thick and thin, from my playing days to now – my wife Hilary – she has is my rock and inspiration.”
William Blackledge Beaumont was born in Preston on 9 March 1952.
Beaumont was not the only rugbyite on the honours list. Scot Doddy Weir, also a lock, now a sufferer of motor-neuron disease, was appointed OBE (Order of the British Empire) and Irishman Willie John McBride MBE, also a lock, was made CBE (Commander of the British Empire).
Beaumont will not be alone amongst knighted rugbymen as he joins recent knights Sir Clive Woodward, Sir Ian McGeechan and Sir Gareth Edwards.
Down through the years, there have been many titled men, starting with Sir Carl Aarvold, who is the first on the alphabetic list of England rugby players. They include Sir Rowland Hill, Lord Wakefield of Kendall whose nickname was Wakers, and Lord John Bannerman, Sir Lancelot Barrington-Ward, Sir George Beamish and Sir Ewart Bell who was the chairman of the IRB and the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
Sir Nicholas Shehadie, who did so much to establish the Rugby World Cup, was knighted for his work as Lord Mayor of Sydney. Sir Wilson Whineray, Sir Colin Meads and Sir Brian Lochore were knighted, on the recommendation of the New Zealand government, for their contribution to rugby, and Sir John Kirwan, an All Black, for his work to alleviate depression.
There are others.
By Paul Dobson