English Rugby
Government turn up the heat on RFU
ESPNscrum Staff
August 2, 2011

Sports minister Hugh Robertson has urged the Rugby Football Union to act quickly to restore the governing body's reputation in the wake of a damaging few months.

The RFU's acting chairman, Paul Murphy, was reportedly summoned to meet Robertson in London last week to explain the alarming series of events that led up to the departure of chief executive John Steele in June. The investigation into his exit led to Martyn Thomas standing down as RFU chairman and most recently, corporate communications and public affairs director Peter Thomas joined the list of casualties.

In less than two months' time, England have to take over the legal responsibility for hosting the 2015 Rugby World Cup - and the Government has guaranteed to underwrite £25million of the costs if the tournament does not break even.

Robertson has revealed he was impressed by Murphy's desire to put things right via an independent review but stressed that time is of the essence. "Paul Murphy came to see me last week and I have been impressed by the positive attitude taken by the RFU to putting things right," Robertson told PA Sport. "They are now going to have an independent review of the governance and looking to appoint non-executive independent directors, both of which I welcome enormously.

"There is a need for this to happen quickly - there is a Rugby World Cup coming up and in less than two months England have to assume responsibility for hosting the tournament in 2015."

The Daily Telegraph reports that the RFU sent an email to council members confirming that Murphy had met with Robertson and that the board had agreed to an independent review of their governance.

"Paul had a very helpful and constructive meeting with Hugh Robertson, Minister of Sport on Thursday morning and, on behalf of the Board, agreed with his suggestion that there should be an independent review of our Governance," the email said. "The arrangements for this review will be agreed by the board and council, and it will take into account the lessons learnt from the Blackett Review."

A spokesman for the Departure of Culture, Media and Sport told the newspaper, "We have been clear that we want sports governing bodies to have the best possible governance structures in place and that includes the RFU."

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