English Rugby
Sir Clive urges RFU to ignore backroom strife
ESPNscrum Staff
July 13, 2011

Former England supremo Sir Clive Woodward has urged the RFU to focus on the World Cup rather than their off-field problems.

It has emerged the RFU could lose another senior figure, with chief disciplinary officer Jeff Blackett considering his position with the national body. Former RFU chairman Martyn Thomas has warned he could take legal action if the Blackett Review panel's report into the saga of John Steele's stint as chief executive is published. High Court judge Blackett chaired the five-man panel which was charged with looking into how the RFU was governed during Steele's nine-month reign.

Blackett's findings, revealed to the RFU council on Sunday, came down strongly on Thomas, and his 52-page report called on the chairman and eight nine non-executive board members to stand down immediately. Thomas quit as chairman on Sunday but remains acting chief executive of the RFU and reportedly intervened to prevent the document being made public, believing Blackett's report defamed him. The problems at boardroom level could prove a distraction to Martin Johnson's World Cup-bound England team.

Woodward, the World Cup-winning England manager, was tipped to return to the RFU as performance director but in May he underlined his commitment to his current job at the British Olympic Association. He hopes the RFU can find a swift resolution to their internal problems, with the World Cup beginning in September.

"For the sake of rugby they've got to move on quickly now," Woodward said, speaking on BBC Radio Five Live. "Thank goodness we've got a Rugby World Cup coming up and we can all focus on what happens on the pitch.

"There are some very good people at Twickenham [RFU headquarters]. There always have been, always will be, and I'm sure they'll get it sorted out. This is part of the history they won't look back too fondly on but I'm sure they'll get through it and we'll move on quickly. The World Cup can't come quick enough now, where we can concentrate on the actual rugby side of things."

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