England Rugby
Thomas to quit RFU and England Rugby 2015
ESPNscrum Staff
November 2, 2011
Martyn Thomas, Twickenham, England, September 7, 2010
Thomas will part company with the RFU and Rugby World Cup organisers England 2015 next month © Getty Images

Martyn Thomas is set to step down as acting chief executive of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and chairman of World Cup organisers England Rugby 2015 next month.

The 67-year-old, who has survived two votes of confidence in traumatic year for English rugby's governing body, has seen his position has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months in the wake of the firing of former chief executive John Steele in June following a botched attempt to recruit a performance director. Events came to a head last week when 130 clubs sent a letter to RFU chairman Paul Murphy threatening to call a special general meeting this week if Thomas did not step down immediately.

RFU chief financial officer Stephen Brown, who only took up his post in June, will become the Union's acting chief executive when Thomas steps down at the end of his current contract on December 16 and will combine the role with his current responsibilities until the start date of a permanent CEO.

Thomas will relinquish the chairmanship of England Rugby 2015 on the same date as well as his directorship of European Rugby Cup Ltd and his places on the International Rugby Board Council and Six Nations Committee.

The Thomas-commissioned review into England's failed Rugby World Cup campaign that former RFU stalwart Fran Cotton was to head up has also been scrapped. However, the RFU's Board of Directors has committed to an Independent Review to "ensure the best performance systems are in place going towards RWC 2015". This Independent Review will be undertaken after the conclusion of the Professional Game Board Review. The make-up of the review panel and terms of reference will be confirmed at a later date.

On the announcement of his pending departure, Thomas said: "It has been an honour to be part of the Union, most particularly for the past six months as Acting Chief Executive where I have been lucky enough to get to know better the RFU staff who work tirelessly for the good of the game. Stephen Brown for one has been a phenomenal addition to the Executive Team and, having got to know him very well over the last few months, I have total faith that he will provide the stability and leadership needed at this important time. I feel that now is the right time to spend more time with my family. As a result I have decided not to renew my contract at its conclusion in December."

Commenting on the latest dramatic twist in the RFU's recent history, Murphy said: "On behalf of the RFU I would like to thank Martyn for his contribution and dedication to rugby and the Union over the years, particularly in his last six as Chairman and latterly as Acting Chief Executive. He has been an integral part of the growth of the Union and the game as well as securing the 2015 Rugby World Cup for England as hosts. I know he will continue to support the Union with all his efforts until his contract ends.

"As a sport we face some exciting and challenging times leading up to 2015, which will be a massive opportunity for the game in this country and as a Union it is important that the leadership structure is in place as soon as possible. The recruitment of new Chief Executive is well underway with an appointment expected by December 14. The Board has been hugely impressed with Stephen Brown since he joined. He is a great asset and we are fortunate to have someone of his calibre to lead the Union in this period."

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