Clubs set to wade in on RFU crisis
July 18, 2011
Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty is set to be a central figure at this week's conference © Getty Images
The Aviva Premiership clubs are set to debate the recent controversy surrounding the Rugby Football Union at their annual conference this week.
Representatives from the country's 12 leading clubs - chairmen, chief executives and directors of rugby - will gather for a two-day summit on Tuesday to review last season and set their rugby and commercial priorities for the new campaign. However, it will also be the first opportunity for Premiership Rugby Board members to review the issues arising from the Blackett-led inquiry into the events surrounding the sacking of RFU chief executive John Steele.
Blackett headed a five-man panel charged with investigating the circumstances surrounding Steele's exit last month and his 52-page investigation reportedly revealed alarming levels of distrust between English rugby's governing body and the game's major stakeholders.
As well as running England's elite club competition, Premiership Rugby has four representatives on the Professional Game Board - the organisation formed as part of the eight-year agreement between the RFU and Premiership Rugby signed in 2008. Alongside officials from the Championship and the Rugby Players' Association they manage and monitor issues in the game.
In a statement on the eve of the conference, Premiership Rugby chairman Quentin Smith opted to focus on the positives provided by last season. "It was a tremendous end to the club season in May with victories for Saracens in the Aviva Premiership Rugby final, coupled with Harlequins' victory in Europe and Northampton Saints' narrow loss [in the Heineken Cup final]," he said.
"However, we are now firmly focused on the new Season and with the JP Morgan Asset Management 7s Series already underway and the clubs back in training, there is much to discuss and plan. Clearly, we are concerned at the issues which have arisen at the RFU. We shall be discussing these with the Clubs and channelling their views back through the Professional Game Board."
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