English Rugby
Steele promises RFU investment in rugby
September 7, 2010
RFU chief executive John Steele, Twickenham, England, September 7, 2010
John Steele has promised investment in rugby © Getty Images

New RFU chief executive John Steele has promised that no expense will be spared in the fight to return England to the top of the world game.

As the new boss of the world's wealthiest rugby nation, Steele has been charged with returning rugby to the top of their agenda. The former Northampton fly-half has taken over the reins following Francis Baron's summer retirement, with RFU chairman Martyn Thomas admitting that rugby priorities had been sacrificed in the drive for commercial success in recent years.

"To be blunt, everyone connected with the game would like to see England's ranking higher than it is now," Steele said. "We are the richest union in the world and that is something that is of massive credit to my predecessor - but that is a means to an end.

"We are not a FTSE 100 company, we are an organisation that is here to serve and lead rugby. Profit is fantastic but it is a means of investing in the game. Your top team is your showcase, it is hugely important. You cannot buy high-performance success but you do need a minimum amount of resources.

"I don't believe a union with the resources we have should see money around the high performance area as being restrictive."

Steele, who joined the RFU from UK Sport, is not planning on reviewing England's elite system, headed by former England fly-half Rob Andrew, but is expecting the country's best shot at World Cup glory to come on home soil in 2015 rather than in New Zealand next year.

"One thing I learned from the Olympic environment is that from talent identification to the podium takes an athlete eight years," he said."Next year's World Cup is hugely important. If I can use the Olympic environment as an example, there is clear factual evidence that you are much more likely to win a medal at your second Olympics rather than your first.

"There is similar evidence in rugby. England won't go into any tournament without wanting to win it - but the performance in 2011 is a building block for 2015 and a home World Cup."

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