English Rugby
Steele: Upheavel will benefit RFU
ESPNscrum Staff
February 2, 2012
Rugby Football Union chief executive John Steele faces the media, RFU press conference, Twickenham, England, September 7, 2010
John Steele experienced nine months in charge of the RFU © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Martyn Thomas | Martin Johnson | John Steele
Tournaments/Tours: Six Nations
Teams: England

The Rugby Football Union's former chief executive John Steele believes the game in England will benefit in the long-term from the recent spate of turmoil in the sport.

The RFU has endured a torrid time of late with Steele lasting just nine months in his job with Martin Johnson and former chairman Martyn Thomas soon following him through the exit door. And Steele, who is bound by a confidentiality agreement, claims the upheaval experienced within the RFU will allow the organisation to build for the future.

"I started the much-needed process of change that will benefit the game," Steele told The Times. "I'm not saying my RFU experience was comfortable but we achieved a lot. I think I've done something which will really help that sport. It's now a platform for others to take forward."

And ahead of the Six Nations, Steele claims he will be "looking on with interest" to see how the new-look England fare. "Stuart [Lancaster, the interim head coach] has a lot of experience and it's great to see young players and a new captaincy," Steele said. "There is a wealth of talent in the Premiership."

And while England are experiencing a brave new dawn under Lancaster, Steele is now head of the Youth Sport Trust charity. And he claims that for a sport to be successful, then it needs to embrace change.

"Some sports settle into a comfortable place," Steele said. "Maybe they're doing enough to keep going, but they are not realising their potential. I wouldn't comment on rugby but I think the best sports in our country, not just in elite terms but in participation, think outside the box. Cycling is a good example.

"UK Athletics have done a great job. It's not that long ago that everything was extremely negative. There is a feel-good factor and that's because people were prepared to change."

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