The RFL has sent its condolences to the family of Ray Unsworth, one of the driving forces behind the hugely successful English Schools Rugby League who died earlier this week after losing his fight with leukaemia.

A schoolteacher by profession, in 1972 Mr Unsworth oversaw all the arrangements for the first ever Test match against the Australian Schoolboys in his capacity as Chairman of Wigan Schools.

The first-ever curtain-raiser at Wembley Stadium took place three years later and Mr Unsworth was a joint proposer that the Widnes and Wigan Under-11s should have that honour. He was a very proud man when he led the Wigan side out onto the pitch.

Between 1979 and 1982 he was the Chairman of the ESRL, and since 1984 had been Honorary Secretary of the association.

His outstanding work with the English Schools Rugby League was recognised in 2012 when he was inducted onto the RFL Roll of Honour.

RFL Director of Strategic Partnerships David Gent, the current chairman of the ESRL, said: “Everyone involved in the sport, especially the thousands of people whose lives were touched by the English Schools Rugby League, owe a great debt to Ray Unsworth.

“His commitment and enthusiasm for the junior game was of the highest order and he was someone with a reputation for always being ready to do the right thing.

“The game is richer for his involvement and our thoughts are with Ray’s family at this sad time.”