I was approached yesterday morning by Anne Spackman to pen 500 words on the Twickenham farce/pantomime.
I sen this in and most of it has survived in this morning's newspaper on p36:
English Rugby: A manifesto for change
by Derek Wyatt
I doubt if any rugby supporter in the land was that surprised when reading the leaked documents about the off and on the field revelations of our England
players who so badly misrepresented our country in the rugby world cup a month ago. They should be ashamed. I doubt if they are.
Will Carling said, as rugby went professional in 1995. "If the game is run properly as a professional game, you do not need 57 old farts running it." From memory, I think he was told to stand in the corner for a week and write out a hundred lines. He was, of course, referring to the Council made up of members largely drawn from the counties. His comments are as pertinent today as they were then - the more so since the county championship has withered on the vine.
The current RFU administration is dysfunctional and over the past 18 months, there has been a systemic loss of trust at Twickenham which has festered and poisoned the game. This led to the Blackett Report which reported in July but was stopped from being published until September. This was an outrage. And the subsequent briefings to the media and the ongoing leaks – something which the Blackett report highlighted – again shows why fundamental reform is required.
You need a structure for the professional game (men and women) and a separate structure for the amateur game (men and women) and an executive board which unites them. You need independent, professional chairmen or women. Elections to these committees should be open, transparent and allow all club members a vote. Board members should be elected for five years and their voting on motions, expenses and ticket allocations should be placed on the RFU’s web site.
It is not all doom and gloom. Professional rugby had no preparation time and you have to hand it to Premiership Rugby at the way they have created a world class product. True the senior clubs struggle to make ends meet as so few of them own their own grounds. For sure, it is still a work in progress but the RFU has virtually abdicated its responsibilities. They are our shop-window but the players need to be reminded of their duties to the wider game. I dread suggesting this but maybe we are inching towards a code of conduct.
There are hopeful signs elsewhere. Richmond and Rosslyn Park, both London based clubs, had difficult times post 1995 adjusting to the mantra of professionalism. Both have decided to become beacon community clubs. They have returned to the core values of the game. Both are thriving. Theirs is the model to follow below the top two leagues.
I hope the new CEO, when announced, will be given proper executive authority. He must be in charge of appointing the new coaching team for England. There is no rush. We need the best person in the world. It will be worth the wait.