Damian Hopley, who founded the Rugby Players Association (RPA) as the representative body for professional rugby in England in 1998, has stepped down as the organization’s chief executive.

Hopley played for the London Wasps rugby union club side and for the England national team before being forced to retire from professional rugby at the age of 27 due to a knee injury, which motivated him to establish the RPA. He has headed the organization since then.

The RPA now represents more than 800 current players and more than 400 former players.

Since 2004, it has also served as the exclusive commercial representative of England national team players.

In a statement announcing Hopley’s resignation, the RPA said: “As the face of the RPA since founding the organization in 1998, he has led us through a remarkable period of development establishing and growing the RPA as a leading player representation organization in global sport.

“During this time, the RPA has successfully represented and supported thousands of female and male, current and former players.

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"The RPA has delivered some momentous welfare wins for the membership over the years, not least securing millions of pounds of investment into player welfare, insurance, and our world-leading personal development programs; generating millions of pounds in support for players through Restart, the RPA’s official charity; and successfully negotiating world-leading pay levels for the England men’s team and providing ongoing support for the brilliant Red Roses.”

It added that a strategic review would now be carried out to ensure it moved forward “fit for the future” and that it could continue to support and represent players effectively.