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RFU pay tribute to Tom Walkinshaw

13 December 2010

  • RFU pay tribute to Tom Walkinshaw, who passed away at the weekend
  • Former Gloucester Chairman integral to the development of professional rugby
Tom Walkinshaw

Photo: Getty Images

The Rugby Football Union has added its heartfelt condolences to the family of Tom Walkinshaw who passed away this weekend.

The Gloucester Rugby Chairman was one of the early movers in defining the future of professional rugby and will be greatly missed by all in the game.

After Walkinshaw lost his battle with cancer, Martyn Thomas, Chairman of the RFU Board, described his impact on the game.

"When the history of rugby union in England is written then Tom’s name will be to the fore," he said.

"Soon after the game went professional in 1995 Tom acquired the iconic Gloucester Club in 1997 and was at the very centre of the rugby revolution battling hard for what he felt was right. He was always forthright and passionate and earned huge respect because there was no doubting his commitment to his beloved club and the game.

"I think the fact that we were able to reach an agreement that delivered professionalism but which also protected the fabric of the game we both held dear and which will safeguard its future is to his huge credit."

Players pay tribute to 'amazing man'

Olly Barkley in action for Gloucester Rugby

Photo: Getty Images

Walkinshaw, also a former Formula One team owner, took over at Kingsholm as the Gloucester owner on April 29, 1997 after buying a majority shareholding.

He was chairman of Premier Rugby, the top-flight clubs' umbrella body, between 1998 and 2002.

Gloucester never managed to win the Premiership title under Walkinshaw's ownership but finished top of the regular season table three times before losing out in the play-offs.

In 2003, Gloucester finished 15 points clear at the top only to be beaten by Wasps in the first Premiership Grand Final.

The Cherry and Whites did win the 2005 European Challenge Cup, beating London Irish 36-34 after extra-time in a thrilling final at The Stoop.

Only last week, Walkinshaw met with Gloucester head coach Bryan Redpath to discuss the future for out-of-contract stars Mike Tindall and James Simpson-Daniel.

Bath Rugby's former Gloucester player Olly Barkley said on Twitter: "Very sorry to hear about the passing of Tom Walkinshaw. Amazing man. My thoughts are with his family and close friends. Be safe."

Mark Foster, now with Exeter, also posted his best wishes. He wrote: "Saddened to hear about the passing of Tom Walkinshaw, a great man who has done so much for Gloucester Rugby over the years. Will be missed greatly, my thoughts go out to his family."

Success in rugby and motor sport

Former Gloucester Rugby Chairman Tom Walkinshaw (R) chats to head coach Dean Ryan

Photo: Getty Images

Walkinshaw will also be missed in the world of motor sport.

He competed in Formula Two and Touring Cars before retiring to concentrate on his own team, Tom Walkinshaw Racing, which he launched in the late 1970s.

TWR enjoyed great success in sportscars, winning Le Mans twice, before Walkinshaw moved to Formula One team Benetton in 1991.

Walkinshaw brought Ross Brawn with him and played a key role in both recruiting Michael Schumacher for Benetton and helping the German win the world title in 1994.

He later took charge of Ligier and owned a controlling share in Arrows.

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