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Posted by RLPA

November 30, 2023

Thank you Christian Welch

The Rugby League Players’ Association thanks Christian Welch for his years of valuable and tireless work on behalf of the playing group as he volunteers to step aside as a Director on the RLPA Board

Appointed to the Board at the 2021 Annual General Meeting, Christian served as player Director during one of the Association’s most demanding periods. This included throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, CBA Revisions negotiations, and 2023-27 CBA negotiations. 

Christian’s tireless work has left an indelible mark. The Association is grateful for the positive impact he has had on the members and the broader rugby league community.  

Following the in-principle agreement between the RLPA and ARL Commission for the men’s and women’s 2023-27 collective bargaining agreement, Christian expressed a desire to dedicate more of his time and focus onto his NRL career and his club the Melbourne Storm.  

As such, Christian will vacate his position on RLPA Board. Chair Dr. Deidre Anderson extended her gratitude to him for the precious time, fearless energy, and constructive insights he provided in his official duties. 

“On behalf of the Rugby League Players’ Association, I want to express our heartfelt appreciation to Christian for his dedicated service as a player Director on the RLPA Board. Christian’s directorship coincided with the most demanding moments in the history of the Association, and we will unlikely ever face a period as challenging as the past four years. We extend our sincere gratitude for the time, effort, and passion he invested in advocating for the welfare of our members.” 

“With the imminent signing of the game’s first-ever long form CBA, now is also the perfect time for a period of renewal that is essential for the next generation of player leaders to emerge from. We look forward to electing our new player and non-player Directors at the 2024 Annual General Meeting in March.” 

General President and player Director Daly Cherry-Evans commended Christian for the instrumental role he played for the RLPA.  

“In my opinion, Christian’s period with the RLPA has been one of the most impactful to date. He offered his time and commitment to the game when it was at its most vulnerable due to Covid-19. I’m sure anyone who knows Welchy understands he wears his heart on his sleeve and leads from the front, which I personally love, and no doubt has led to better working conditions for all players. I want to thank him on behalf of all players for his contribution over the last few years” 

RLPA CEO and Managing Director Clint Newton praised Christian for his incredible tenure as player Director. 

“Christian will depart the RLPA knowing he has played a pivotal role in ensuring the RLPA is stronger than ever before. We are immensely thankful for his essential contribution, courageous leadership, and spirited dedication that were instrumental during critical junctures. I look forward to continuing to engage with him as a leader of our game despite stepping away from his formal RLPA commitments.” 

Christian will also step aside effective immediately from the Men’s Player Advisory Group and his duties as a Delegate for the Melbourne Storm. Christian’s term as Director was due to expire at the 2024 Annual General Meeting. 

Wade Graham will formally vacate his position as player Director on the Board at the 2024 Annual General Meeting in March due to his voluntary retirement from the NRL, in accordance with the RLPA Constitution.  

Wade served as a player Director for over four years after his initial appointment to the Board in 2019 and was re-elected in 2022. 

About the RLPA 

The Rugby League Players’ Association (RLPA) is the representative body of elite rugby league players contracted to play in the National Rugby League competitions, NSW Cup, Queensland Cup and elite women’s competitions,  

Players agree on how their negotiated share of NRL revenue is divided up and distributed across the Total Player Payments. Within the Total Player Payments, there is also a portion which the players have agreed will be directed towards funding their association. This represents the members’ fees and the revenue received is what the association operates off. 

RLPA Board of Directors 

Dr Deidre Anderson AM (Chair) 
Clint Newton OAM (CEO and Managing Director) 
Daly Cherry-Evans (General President) 
Wade Graham 
Tim Gordon 
Steven Harker AM 
Josh Hodgson 
Chelsea Lenarduzzi 
Hannah Southwell 

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