The Rugby Football League have paid tribute to Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract, president of the All Party Parliamentary Rugby League Group, who died on Thursday after a short illness at the age of 86.
Lord Lofthouse, a one-time player with Featherstone, was MP for Pontefract and Castleford from 1978-97 and deputy speaker of the House of Commons from 1992 until receiving a life peerage in 1997. He was a founding member of the Parliamentary group and served as its chairman for many years until becoming president in 2011.
"On behalf of the RFL I would like to extend my sympathies to the family of Lord Lofthouse at this sad time," said chief executive Nigel Wood.
"Lord Lofthouse championed the sport in Westminster all through his political life and rugby league owes a great debt to him for all his unstinting work on our behalf.
"He was a strong figure in the process which brought the RFL and BARLA together in 2003 to create a single governing body, as a result of which rugby league has been able to continue to grow in strength."
Group chairman Greg Mulholland, the Leeds North West MP, said: "We in the group will remember Geoff for his passion for the sport he loved and the communities it supports, excites and serves.
"We believe him to be the only Member of Parliament to have played rugby league at professional level."
The funeral will be held at All Saints in Pontefract on November 8.