John Jeavons-Fellows obituary

  • Jeavons-Fellows dies aged 78
  • RFU chairman pays tribute to his 'dedication and vision'

John Jeavons-Fellows, a Privilege Member of the RFU, died peacefully at his Worcestershire home on Tuesday at the age of 78.

“The sport of rugby union continues to flourish thanks to the dedication and vision of people like John Jeavons-Fellows, who helped to provide firm foundations for the modern game, as well as ensuring that his own club, Stourbridge RFC, was at the heart of its community," said RFU chairman Andy Cosslett.

Rugby Football Union representative for the North Midlands from 1983-1995, John’s contribution to the day-to-day work and policy development of the RFU was prolific.  

He was instrumental in setting up the Bishop Commission, where his paper on governance was the catalyst to update the structure of the RFU’s committees and administration.

John served on a broad range of RFU sub-committees, with achievements including the establishment and administration of RFU competitions, notably the Courage Leagues and the Pilkington Shield, as well as the foundation of the RFU National Centre for Schools and Youth Rugby at Castlecroft.

John worked tirelessly to promote and protect England’s interests on the International Rugby Football Board from 1994-1999. Highly regarded, he always took a positive but pragmatic view of developments in world rugby, never hesitating to stand up for the RFU’s interests.

Sitting on the IRFB’s Executive Council, Board Policy Committee and International Matches and Finance Committees, John was one of those to vote for the game going professional in 1995. He was also keen to see England with more competitive opportunities and, with the RFU’s backing, used his international influence to instigate the autumn international series and southern hemisphere summer tour schedule.

A forthright and dedicated servant of the game, John was seen by many as being ahead of his time during a pivotal period for the sport.

He negotiated TV and sponsorship deals, including BBC and BSkyB as a broadcaster and Heineken as European rugby sponsor. He was a founding Director of European Rugby Cup Ltd  and was part of the committee for the British and Irish Lions 1997 Tour of South Africa.

His first and abiding rugby love was Stourbridge Rugby, he and his wife Jackie serving the club for some 60 years.

John played for their First XV from the age of 18, was President in their centenary year and masterminded the development of the club and its clubhouse. All three of his sons were among the club’s first mini rugby players, going on to play for the First XV and six of John’s grandsons now play for Stourbridge.

John, who lost his eldest son Harry in 2005, is survived by his wife Jackie, sons Tom and Dick and daughter Charlotte.

The funeral will be held at St Mary’s, Old Swinford, DY8 2HA at 2pm on Friday 2nd June and afterwards at Stourbridge Rugby Club.