London - The former head of the Rugby Football Union, Cliff Brittle, has died after a long illness it was announced Thursday. He was 69.
Brittle was chairman of the RFU from 1996-1998, one of the most turbulent periods in the history of the sport as English rugby struggled to adapt to the advent of professionalism in 1995.
Brittle played rugby for Stoke on Trent and Sale and represented Staffordshire before joining the RFU committee in 1989.
"Cliff had rugby close to his heart and cared deeply about the game at every level," former England and British Lions prop Fran Cotton said.
"He was impatient to secure the best for English rugby and all involved in it at the very difficult time when the game went professional. I am sure many of us will remember him as a visionary and as a true friend."