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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Templeman to lead review into RFU

Miles Templeman, one of the independent nonexecutive directors appointed to the Rugby Football Union's management board this year, will lead the review into the way the governing body is run.

The choice of Templeman, a former director general of the Institute of Directors, to head the steering group that will consult the various groups that make up the game in England about the radical recommendations of an independent legal firm, Slaughter and May, is a significant move in itself.

The president of the RFU would ordinarily assume such a role but after a year that has seen sackings, redundancies and resignations at Twickenham in the most turbulent period in the union's history, there is an acceptance on the board of directors and the council that change was needed and that the nomination of Templeman would reflect that.

"We have a great opportunity to define how we run the game we all love," said the RFU president, Willie Wildash. "We feel a huge responsibility to everybody involved in rugby at all levels not only to reflect humbly on how we run our game but to take real progressive action.

"Many of the 150 recommendations in the report would, if adopted, fundamentally improve how we operate. Every one will be closely studied and discussed. Some of this will take time and it is vitally important that it is done thoroughly and correctly to benefit the whole game."

The essence of the proposed changes is that the RFU should become more professional in its administration and change those parts of its structure, including the council, which are relics of the amateur era. The catalyst for reform was the sacking of the former chief executive John Steele earlier this year after committee-room plotting.

The upshot was an inquiry into the hiring and firing of Steele chaired by the RFU's chief disciplinary officer, Jeff Blackett, which found that the board of directors had mishandled the affair and called for resignations. Its key recommendations were ignored, but with the union having this week entered into a cathartic phase, self-flagellation after the S&M review, it effectively apologised for not acting on the findings immediately.

"The Slaughter and May review was essential and precipitated by a number of factors, especially the Blackett Report, which was a most thorough review into the circumstances surrounding the sudden departure of John Steele in June," said Wildash. "The report identified failures within the RFU and that has been a catalyst for change, not least leading to the Slaughter and May review. We are very optimistic that we have turned a corner and are now heading in the right direction."

The council meeting endorsed the proposals of the Professional Game Board after its review into England's World Cup campaign. The search for an interim head coach to take charge for the Six Nations has started and an appointment is expected next week.

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