London - World Cup winner Jason Leonard said he felt "honoured" to become the
new chairman of the British and Irish Lions board after his appointment
was announced Thursday.
The former England prop and president of the Rugby Football Union
went on three tours with the combined side as player and was a member of
the victorious 1997 Lions squad in South Africa.
Leonard, the first player from rugby union's professional era to be
appointed to the role, succeeds former Ireland captain Tom Grace and his
term in office is set to include the Lions' 2021 tour of South Africa.
"I am honoured to be asked to be the chairman of the British and
Irish Lions and I look forward to working with my fellow board members,
former Lions and the executive team to make the 2021 Lions tour to South
Africa a success on and off the pitch," Leonard told the Lions'
"I am excited to build on the great work done by my predecessor Tom
Grace and would like to thank him for his guidance and dedication over
the last number of years," he added.
British and Irish Lions' managing director Ben Calveley welcomed
Leonard to his new post by saying: "I would like to congratulate Jason
on his appointment and am looking forward to working closely with him in
the coming years.
"His huge experience as a winning Lion respected globally as one of
the greats of the game, coupled with his business acumen, will provide
us with the insight required to organise a successful tour to South