English Rugby
RFU committed to Sport England deal
ESPNscrum Staff
July 13, 2011

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) have released a statement re-iterating their commitment to the existing funding plan agreement between themselves and Sport England.

The accord was thrown into doubt after Martyn Thomas was forced to resign as RFU chairman following a damning report into last month's sacking of chief executive John Steele by chief disciplinary officer Judge Jeff Blackett, who is now thought to be considering his own position with the governing body. Thomas warned he could take legal action if the Blackett Review panel's report was published, which called on the chairman and eight of the RFU's nine non-executive board members to stand down immediately.

While the legal action is believed to have been formally lifted, questions still remain over the RFU's leadership and led Government agency Sport England to voice their concerns. Sport England's director of sport Phil Smith questioned whether the governing body's changes would see the four-year funding plan to increase participation at all levels of the game stall.

"We will be writing to Martyn Thomas this week to seek assurances that the plan we recently agreed with John [Steele] will remain in place and that the leadership is in good shape to carry out that plan, whoever that leader might be," said Smith, talking to The Daily Telegraph. "We will keep a closer eye on it than we probably would with others because that's the nature of making an investment and them making very senior personnel changes.

"Martyn Thomas has a long to-do list and we are keen to stay near the top of it. It is not for us to comment on or interfere in the internal workings of a governing body, that is up to them. We just need to make sure our investment is going to be protected and well managed."

The deal had been struck before Steele's departure but the RFU on Wednesday issued a statement in which they said: "Government investment is very important to us and we are in talks with them about it. We will be seeking to reassure them that they will live up to the commitments that we have made."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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