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Clubs hail Walkinshaw impact

England's Premiership clubs have paid tribute to Gloucester chairman Tom Walkinshaw following his death at the age of 64.

Walkinshaw, who had battled cancer, twice served as chairman of Premiership Rugby and was instrumental in negotiating a long-term agreement between England's top clubs and the Rugby Football Union.

Premiership Rugby chairman Quentin Smith said: "In so many respects, the success of professional club rugby is testament to the vision, leadership and drive of Tom Walkinshaw. His determination and energy helped create the Premiership Rugby and European competitions we know and love today. He will be sadly missed."

Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty added: "I worked closely with Tom over the last few years, and unquestionably he was one of the founding fathers and leaders in the creation and growth of professional club rugby, not only in England but across Europe.

"His vision and drive was decisive in today's success, and the legacy he leaves is the enjoyment of so many each weekend of the season."

Peter Tom, the executive chairman of Premiership champions Leicester who succeeded Walkinshaw as Premiership Rugby chairman, also hailed his contribution to the sport.

"Tom was a central figure in the development of the professional club game in this country and in Europe, and he was a positive influence as chairman of his club and also as chairman of Premiership Rugby," he said.

"Gloucester is a traditional hot-bed of the game and Tom was a major force in the club's development on and off the field in the professional era.

"He was a dynamic chairman of Premiership Rugby, and although we had our rivalries when our clubs met, he was always a gracious host at Kingsholm and a welcome guest at Welford Road. Club rugby in this country is all the poorer for his passing.

"I spent a lot of time with Tom over the last 15 years and got to know him well. I counted him as a close friend within the rugby community, and I send my condolences to Tom's wife Martine and their family, as well as to the officials, players and supporters of Gloucester Rugby."

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