Tuesday, 6 September 2011


While the England players focus on getting themselves ready for the opening RWC game against Argentina, back home the RFU continue to make an utter horlicks of running the domestic game at large.

A brief summary of events to date:

- Following the retirement of Francis Baron, the RFU appointed John Steele as CEO in June 2010. Steele put together plans to reform the management structure within the RFU, plans which were endorsed by the RFU Management Board.

- Part of the plan was to appoint a Performance Director, a role seen by many (including RFU Chairman Martyn Thomas and a selection of rugby hacks) as tailor-made for a certain knight of the realm.

- In May this year, concerned by the lack of applicants for the role, Steele decided to change the job spec, taking the England team out of the equation, only to to perform a spectacular U-turn less than 3 days later after coming under pressure from Thomas and the Board who were set on employing said knight of the realm (who promptly ruled himself out of the running).

- Upset at losing their preferred candidate, the RFU Management Board effectively sacked Steele in June and asked Jeff Judge Blackett to investigate the circumstances leading up to that point. Martyn Thomas took over as acting CEO on a reported salary of £250k.

- Judge Blackett produced his report in July but, rather than condemn John Steele's actions (as the Management Board had anticipated) the principal recommendations of the report were that Martyn Thomas and nine other non executive directors on the Management Board should resign.

- Athough Martyn Thomas did indeed, in a tactical move, step down as Chairman of the RFU Management Board at the RFU's AGM on 10th July, he also prevented publication of the Blackett Report by threatening to bring legal proceedings against Judge Blackett for libel and managed to retain his lucrative new role as acting CEO.

- Despite yet more expert legal advice commissioned by the RFU Management Board (this time from Deputy High Court Judge Robert Englehart QC), on 2nd September the RFU Council voted overwhelmingly to publish the Blackett Report and the RFU announced that the findings of the Blackett Report had, after all, been endorsed by the Management Board (!)

- However, (a) the Report will not now be published until 30th September (on the basis that the RFU have to appoint a calligrapher to transcribe the report in goat's blood on papyrus or some other such nonsense) and (b) to date not one of the RFU Management Board has resigned - other than Thomas, of course, who still retains his highly paid acting CEO role as well as his role as as chairman of Rugby World Cup 2015 and his position as one of the RFU’s representatives on the International Rugby Board.

What next? A disrepute charge against Martyn Thomas has been rumoured but who knows? You really couldn't make it up and the other side of the world is probably the best place for the England team to be right now.

1 comment:

BigDai said...

Listen old boy, its all been a ghastly shower, dirty laundry in public and all that.
Lets say we sweep this under the carpet until after the RWC, after all the 1st Class tickets and hotels are booked. Once I've enjoyed my RFU jaunt down to the colonies, I'll go quietly. No expensive legal fees and bad press, you understand? Just as we discussed at the East India?