Wales Rugby League have congratulated Ray French for being awarded an MBE for services to Rugby League.
French was the BBC’s primary Rugby League commentator between 1982 and 2008 commentating on every Challenge Cup Final during that period, but was also a top player in both rugby codes, turning out for England in the 1961 rugby union Five Nations before playing for Great Britain in the 1968 Rugby League World Cup.
But his services to Rugby League have not been confined to England. He has always been a big supporter of Rugby League in Wales, especially over the last ten years where the game in Wales has seen enormous growth in professional and community level as well as in schools.
Plus earlier this year, his devotion to Rugby League in Wales was confirmed again when he announced a “Dream Welsh XIII” live on BBC1 before commentating on the Crusaders v Catalans Dragons Challenge Cup match alongside Jonathan Davies.
“We would like to send our hearty congratulations to Ray,” said Wales Rugby League’s Executive Chairman, Mark Rowley. “Whenever we have met, he has always commended us for the work we are doing in Wales and he has always been very supportive. He is forever writing articles supporting Welsh Rugby League, sometimes in the face of adversity from his peers, and in particular is a very big fan of the grassroots game in our country. Once again, very big congratulations to Ray, his award is well deserved, he is a great ambassador for the game at all levels.”
Co-commentator for the BBC and former dual-code Wales and Great Britain international, Jonathan Davies said: “I rang him earlier today to say congratulations. He thoroughly deserves this recognition for his tireless services to the sport. For me, he is Mr Rugby League.”
Wales Rugby League’s Media Manager, Ian Golden added: “I’d like to congratulate Ray for this fantastic award and would like to thank him personally for all the help that he has given me throughout the years since we first met in Dewsbury back in 2002 when I was Team Manager of Cardiff Demons. Whenever I need a piece of advice about Rugby League or the media in general, I know that all I need to do is give Ray a call.
“People may not realise that his Rugby League work is greater than just being a BBC TV commentator. He is also an experienced newspaper writer, an author, a local radio commentator and pundit in Merseyside and is involved behind the scenes in a number of community Rugby League clubs. His involvement in the game is enormous and long may it continue.”