WHARFEDALE RUFC president John Spencer has taken over the presidency of the world-famous Barbarians.

The 72-year-old, who was born in Grassington, was previously chairman of the Barbarians and replaces the legendary Micky Steele-Bodger, who died last May.

Spencer, only the seventh president in the club’s history - it was formed in 1890 in Bradford - has a long association with them.

The former Wharfedale and Headingley centre represented the Barbarians 23 times between 1969 and 1977, having also won three Blues for Cambridge University, and was capped 14 times by England, whom he captained four times.

Spencer not only represented the Barbarians, England and the British and Irish Lions (he went on the 1971 Lions tour to New Zealand but didn't play in any of the four Test matches) as a player but also worked with each organisation on the administrative side.

He comes to the presidency with a wealth of experience in the game, having been chairman of the Barbarians since 2014, as well as serving as the 2017 Lions tour manager, he was president of the RFU in 2017-2018, and has worked on both the Six Nations Council and the World Rugby Board.

Spencer said: “Having been a Barbarian for some 50 years and chairman of this wonderful club, it is a huge honour and responsibility to be named president.

"I am delighted to be able to continue the club’s development and progress.

“This club’s values are rooted in flair, courage, spirit and passion and, as we move forward, integrity, friendship and enjoyment are equally important.

"We have many opportunities every year to increase the number of Barbarians and take our brand of rugby, and values of our club, around the world.

“With the women’s team now firmly installed and playing fixtures alongside the men, there are more opportunities than ever to showcase our unique playing style and bring the excitement of the Barbarians to fans everywhere.

“I know I have big shoes to fill as Micky was such a giant of this club and I want to pay tribute to everything he did for the Barbarians in his 31-year tenure.

"In his memory, and for the continued success of the club, I look forward to seeing the club move into a bright future.”