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Rugby League ‘visionary’ Maurice Lindsay dies aged 81

Former Wigan chairman Maurice Lindsay has died at the age of 81 (Rui Vieira/PA)
Former Wigan chairman Maurice Lindsay has died at the age of 81 (Rui Vieira/PA)

Maurice Lindsay, the architect of Wigan’s golden era and also a former chief executive of the Rugby Football League, has died at the age of 81.

Wigan paid tribute to their former chairman, who joined the club in 1980 and sparked an unprecedented period of success, saying he “will be forever remembered as a visionary”.

Under Lindsay’s leadership, Wigan won eight league titles and also eight consecutive Challenge Cups between 1985 and 1992, with a side featuring stars like Ellery Hanley and Martin Offiah.

Lindsay later went on to lead the RFL and was one of the instigators of Super League and the switch to summer rugby in 1996, for which his club were rebranded as Wigan Warriors.

Wigan said they were “deeply saddened” by his passing, adding: “Lindsay was respected and admired throughout the world of Rugby League and will be forever remembered as a visionary – proposing the Super League which changed the face of Rugby League forever.

“Wigan Warriors sends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Maurice at this very sad time.”

Wigan v Halifax – Silk Cut Challenge Cup – Wembley
Ellery Hanley starred in Wigan’s golden era under Maurice Lindsay (PA Archive)

Lindsay subsequently served as chief executive of Super League before returning to Wigan following their move from Central Park to the JJB Stadium.

He also served on the board of Wigan Athletic alongside owner Dave Whelan, and had a brief stint as chairman of Preston North End.

RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer said: “Maurice Lindsay will be remembered as one of the most significant leaders in the sport’s history.

“First at the Wigan club, where the strength of his personality was critical in their emergence as arguably the greatest club side of all-time in this country, one which dominated domestically and flourished internationally, and whose impact extended well beyond Rugby League.

“Then when he moved to the game’s central administration at the RFL, he was the leading figure in driving through the inception of the Super League in 1996, which genuinely transformed the sport.

“He was a truly unique character, a wonderful raconteur, always had a twinkle in his eye – and he lived a remarkable life. Rugby League would not be where it is today without him.”