Kevin Sinfield OBE

Job Title
Director of Rugby

BIOGRAPHY

In July 2018, Kevin Sinfield became Leeds Rhinos Director of Rugby after returning to his club. Sinfield’s playing career at the Rhinos spanned a golden period in the club’s history from his debut in 1997 through to his final game at the Grand Final in 2015. He captained the club from 2003 and he won seven Grand Finals, two Challenge Cups, three World Club Challenges and three League Leaders Shields in his time in blue and amber. His services to the game were recognised in 2014 when he was awarded a MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Fittingly in his 521st and final game for the club, Kevin made history again as Leeds completed a record breaking treble in 2015. He finished with 3,968 points including 1,832 goals. Off the field, in 2008 Sinfield graduated with a BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science degree at Leeds Beckett University before adding a MA in Sport Business. After his playing career had finished, Sinfield successfully transitioned to the management of the sport in his role as Performance Director for the Rugby Football League. He created and implemented a programme of change within the national team which resulted in the England team reaching the men’s World Cup Final in 2017 before winning a home test series against New Zealand the following year. Alongside returning the mens team to the top of the international game, Sinfield also pioneered the womens and wheelchair teams with the womens team being paid for the first time in the game’s history for their groundbreaking tour of Papua New Guinea in 2019 and ensuring support for the England Wheelchair team’s tour of Australia in the same year. That ‘one sport’ philosophy that Sinfield supported has resulted in the 2021 World Cup being the first international sports event to host concurrent World Cups across men, women and wheelchair versions of the code. Having left his role at the RFL in 2019, Sinfield returned full time to his former club at Leeds Rhinos putting his legacy as a legendary player on the line to take up a new position as Director of Rugby to try and help return the club to past glories. His drive to promote young, local players resulted in the club winning the Challenge Cup at Wembley in 2020. Sinfield is a patron of the Yorkshire Kidney Research Fund and the James Milner Foundation as well as a Vice President for the Leeds Rugby Foundation, and an ambassador for the State of Mind charity that raises awareness of mental health issues amongst young men in particular. He is also an ambassador for the forthcoming Rugby League World Cup in England in 2021. However, it is his work in support of Rob Burrow that he gained national recognition. Burrow was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in December aged just 37, two years after retiring from the sport and with three children under the age of 8 to support. Sinfield immediately became a figurehead for the campaign to support Burrow, helping to organise a testimonial game in front of a sell out crowd at Emerald Headingley Stadium as well as forging a friendship with Scottish Rugby Union international Doddie Weir, himself diagnosed with MND in 2017. That was followed in December 2020 with his 7 in 7 Challenge when he led a small team of six volunteers to run seven marathons in seven days, each in under four hours, to raise funds and awareness for Burrow and the MND Association. The original aim was to raise £77,777 – the number seven being significant as it was Burrow’s old playing number. However, such was the public outpouring of support for Sinfield and the hope engendered by the friendship between Sinfield and Burrow that the original target was surpassed on the opening day. Sinfield and his team would go on to raise over £2.7m for the MND community. However, more than just garnering the vital financial support for those impacted by MND, Sinfield also gave a voice to the families and individuals impacted by this cruel disease. A daily video panel allowed Sinfield to speak directly to those families and the organisations who are supporting them to put the public spotlight. Over 2.2 million people watched Sinfield on BBC Breakfast to spark a national conversation about motor neurone disease and bringing attention to the disease, which was particularly important during the global pandemic when many vulnerable individuals were left feeling isolated and alone as they dealt with their own diagnosis. Having been awarded a MBE in 2014 for his services to Rugby League, in June 2021, Sinfield was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours for his fundraising efforts.