RFU hits back after ex chief executive hits out
As the England squad flew to New Zealand for the World Cup, the row they left behind raged on as the Rugby Football Union (RFU) said accusations against it of “gross mismanagement” made by former chief executive Francis Baron were “totally unfounded”.
Baron called for disciplinary action to be taken against members of the RFU Board, claiming they had overseen a “complete collapse in governance standards”.
RFU chairman Martyn Thomas and fellow Twickenham board members Rob Udwin, John Spencer, Ian Metcalfe, Jonathan Dance and Peter Baines were asked to resign in the highly-critical review by Judge Jeff Blackett into the sacking of then chief executive John Steele in June.
Steele was axed after a row over the terms of reference for the newly-created and still unfilled post of performance director, amid reports he did not want 2003 England World Cup winning coach Clive Woodward to have a free run at the role.
RFU chiefs were furious when Steele changed the job description for the post, stripping the role of any responsibility for England’s senior Test team.
That move was seen as a deliberate snub to Woodward, now with the British Olympic Association.
Thomas resigned as chairman of English rugby union’s governing body over the matter last month, although he remains acting chief executive until a successor to Steele is found.
But Steele’s predecessor Baron, in post from 1998-2010, said: “I believe the right way forward is for the RFU to convene a disciplinary hearing to evaluate the allegations in the Blackett review.
“If that happens, the council has got to suspend those board members, pending the outcome of the hearing, as would happen in any other walk of life.”
The RFU hit back in a statement, saying Baron’s allegations were “totally unfounded and unworthy of a former chief executive with 12 years distinguished service.”
The RFU Council voted not to publish the Blackett review at their last meeting on July 10, after its author was threatened with legal action.