English Rugby
Blackett report to be published
ESPNscrum Staff
September 3, 2011

The Rugby Football Union is to publish Judge Jeff Blackett's damning report into the events surrounding the departure of former chief executive John Steele following a dramatic day at English rugby's HQ.

The RFU Council decided to vote in favour of publishing the 52-page document that is reportedly highly critical of the RFU management board and calls for all non-executive members of the RFU management board, except IRB vice chairman Bill Beaumont.

However, despite agreeing to its release and its recommendations, acting chief executive and former chairman Martyn Thomas survived a vote of no confidence and no resignations are expected. Paul Murphy, who was appointed permanent RFU chairman at the meeting, is confident no legal action will be taken against the council despite Thomas' recent threat to the Council.

"There is no pending legal action. The report will be out in the public domain. Now everyone has agreed it can be published. We will produce it by the end of September," Murphy said.

Steele, and the Union's board, received strong criticism for their handling of the recruitment of a performance director - a role which is now likely to be scrapped. Steele came under fire for changing the job description of the role and then reverting to the post's original specification within days.

RFU favourite Sir Clive Woodward was interested in taking over the role but withdrew his application after the Union's embarrassing U-turn as reports emerged of a boardroom power struggle at Twickenham.

When asked whether he anticipated any resignations, Murphy said: "No. None whatsoever. There is a statement from everyone saying they accept them (the recommendations)."

He added: "We hope this is the beginning of closure of this issue now. We want to be focused on supporting the England team in New Zealand at the World Cup. We recognise there have been a few mistakes but we need to move on."

The RFU have decided that the role of performance director is no longer required. "The Council recommends a joint responsibility of a professional rugby director and also a development director rather than just a performance director," Murphy added. "This will now go to the Professional Game Board for consultation when they meet next Thursday. The Board will then make a final decision on 14th September."

The RFU also announced a number of other initiatives today which it hopes will help it become more transparent in the wake of the saga. In a move similar to that adopted by the Football Association's new chairman David Bernstein, the RFU hope to appoint one or maybe two independent non-executive directors to their board.

Interviews have already begun for the position, with the RFU keen to bring in someone from outside the rugby world to help them. "I am sure that person will be of the highest calibre and will be of huge benefit with regard to our corporate governance responsibilities," Murphy said.

The new chairman also indicated he hoped to have a replacement for Steele in place soon. "The recruitment of a new chief executive will be accelerated with recruitment consultants appointed within the next few weeks, followed by interviews and, we hope, an appointment well before Christmas," he said. "Independent auditors will also conduct a full review on our corporate governance and to recommend ways to enhance it."

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