Leeds Beckett student chosen for Rugby League Inclusion Board
Michael Lawrence, who plays for the Huddersfield Giants and is studying at Leeds Beckett’s Carnegie School of Sport, will meet with the inclusion board four times a year with the focus on diversity, inclusion, and anti-discrimination. Its members are drawn from a wide range of backgrounds.
Michael said: “I feel very proud and privileged to be appointed to the inclusion board.
“I believe the inclusion board was the next step in Rugby League. The Black Lives Matter protests in Super League ‘taking the knee’ brought lots of attention to the issue of racism in Rugby League, sport, and society. I could strongly relate to some of the issues that arose and believed that more needed to be done and actual action needed to be taken to help create positive change.”
Michael is the only player on the inclusion board and will be required to offer his opinion, share his personal experiences, give advice, and any ideas on strategies to improve inclusivity and diversity in Rugby League.
The new inclusion board will oversee progress against ‘Tackle It’, which was launched last year – an action plan setting out how Rugby League will extend its reach and appeal, diversify its talent pool, improve its culture, and actively deal with discrimination.
Michael added: “Alex Simmons headed up putting the ‘Tackle It’ action plan together. It’s made of 10-15 key targets that we’re hoping to achieve over the next five years.
“I’m the type of person that likes to see things through that I start. This is something I’m very passionate about, and I’m looking forward to hopefully making a difference.”
Dr Andrew Abraham, Head of Subject for Sport Coaching at Leeds Beckett University, said: “We’re proud and delighted to see Michael take on this role. Social justice and inclusion are key topics on our course and Michael has already been willing to share some of his experiences with other students. Michael will certainly bring an informed view to the role. We are working hard to integrate findings into the course from our researchers in the Centre for Social Justice in Sport and Society led by Professor Leanne Norman”.
Prof Leanne Norman is equally pleased to see a current Carnegie student taking such a prominent lead in making rugby league more equitable: “Here in the Research Centre for Social Justice in Sport, making sport fairer for all and working with organisations to perform better through utilising the diverse pool of talented people they have, is our driving purpose. We commend Michael on being appointed to such a crucial role within the RFL and fully support his work and studies, in partnership with the Carnegie Sport Coaching team. This is further recognition of our students and staff’s expertise in issues of diversity and inclusion in sport”.