Former RFU Chief John Steele Becomes CEO of Youth Sport Trust

January 23, 2012

John Steele, has become the new chief executive of the Youth Sport Trust (YST) following his departure as head of the Rugby Football Union (RFU), it has been announced today.

He replaces Steve Grainger who quit as the YST’s last March after he was, ironically, headhunted by Steele to be the new rugby development director at the RFU.

Since Grainger left Baroness Sue Campbell had been the acting chief executive but she has now returned to her previous role as chair. 

The main task for Steele, who is due to officially take up his new position on February 6, will be to oversee the new School Games, the Government’s flagship school sport policy, which is supported by Sainsbury’s, which is due to take place at several venues on the Olympic Park in May. 

“It is an absolute privilege to be appointed chief executive of the Youth Sport Trust,” said Steele, a former player, coach and director of Premiership rugby club Northampton Saints

“I have often looked on with admiration at the work of the Youth Sport Trust and a large part of my motivation for joining the organisation is it’s exceptional record of delivery and expertise.  

“I passionately believe that sport has a crucial part to play in the development of young people and I look forward to taking up this new challenge.  

“Leading an organisation which is playing such an important role within this country’s sporting landscape is an honour.

“In this, the Olympic and Paralympic year, we simply must ensure that every young person has the opportunity to take part in more PE and sport.   

“We have seen such dramatic improvements in school sport over the last decade and 2012 has to be a catalyst to drive these improvements further.

“Whilst understanding the tough economic position the country is in, if we are to capitalise on this sporting moment it is critical that there is the investment and infrastructure in place to support those young people who are inspired by sport.”

The appointment is no surprise as Campbell is also the chair of UK Sport, where she had recruited Steele as chief executive in 2005 just a few days before London were awarded the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. 

He had earned widespread praise for his work there before he left in June 2010 to replace Francis Baron as chief executive of the RFU.

But he left the RFU a year later following an internal row over the appointment of new performance director, which most people believed should go to Sir Clive Woodward, the coach when England won the World Cup in 2003 and who is now working for the British Olympic Association. 

“We are delighted to welcome John to the Youth Sport Trust at what is a truly exciting time for the organisation.” said Campbell. 

“John brings a wealth of experience that will be invaluable in supporting us to shape the future of school sport and ensure that every young person has the opportunity to take part, compete, lead and volunteer in sport.

“We have given careful consideration to this position and have been extremely impressed by the strong list of candidates that we received.  

“This reflects the importance that so many rightly put on school sport and the role it has to play in the development of the nation’s youth.”