Photo Credit: Davey Wilson
Long-serving chairman Peter Illfield has stepped down from his role with the US Association of Rugby League (USARL) Inc.
He was chairman of USA Rugby League (USARL) LLC from 2011 through to 2014, when the International Rugby League (IRL) regulations required national governing bodies to be not-for-profit incorporations. He was elected chair of the inaugural USARL Inc in the same year and held that position until the end of 2022.
Illfield was also head coach of the Philadelphia Fight from 2007 to 2014, during which time the club won three national championships (2011, 2013, 2014).
In announcing his decision, Illfield says he’s excited about the game’s future in the US and hopes that the code will flourish in America under the IRL’s guidance.
“Assisting with the growth of rugby league in the USA was a great pleasure, no more than my time at the Philadelphia Fight,” Illfield says. “There’s a big job to be done in the years ahead.”
Illfield’s last act as chairman was initiating the joint process to review the governance model of the sport in the USA under the stewardship of IRL chairman, Troy Grant, as per Illfield’s request.
This ultimately led to the reform process of the USARL Inc’s governance model, which was ratified this past February under the interim USARL Inc board under the IRL’s guidance.
“A big thank you is extended to Danny Kazandjian, secretary general of the IRL, Romeo Monteith, European Rugby League Americas regional director, and all the rugby league stakeholders in the USA that have spent countless hours assisting the progress of the USARL Inc and now the reform of the USARL,” he says.
Chair of USARL LLC, Drew Slover says he’s grateful to Illfield and his time as chairman as his advice and support was not only invaluable, but also helpful to him personally.
“There was no-one more suited for the chairman position when we started this in 2011,” says Slover. “He had the time, experience, and willingness for this exhausting and thankless job.
“As an American, one thing that I was happy about was the choice to put more focus on elevating American players to represent our country. Now our players actually have a chance to play for the national team and compete at a level above the domestic comp. Unfortunately, this wasn’t always the case.
“At the end of the day, I don’t think anyone, even himself, expected his tenure to last as long as it did. However, he was the right person for the job, and we are in a better place for his work.”
Whether a new USARL Inc chairman will be appointed is unclear. A decision on that is expected towards the end of this year when all of the updated governance rules resulting from the reform are due to come into effect.