Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

RFU changes approved

RFU

Rugby Football Union chief executive John Steele has been given the go-ahead to make significant changes to the organisation's senior management structure.

Steele launched a comprehensive review of the RFU when he took over at Twickenham four months ago and presented his findings to the board of directors at a meeting in Birmingham on Wednesday .

The former UK Sport boss set out to strengthen the RFU in preparation for hosting the 2015 Rugby World Cup and his recommendations were unanimously approved. The RFU will not confirm any details of the changes until Thursday afternoon, giving Steele a chance to speak to staff directly.

Rob Andrew's position as England's elite rugby director is one of those to have come under the microscope. Andrew is not expected to leave the RFU but it is likely his role will be redefined.

Steele's plan is understood to include the creation of a performance director post within the elite department, although the exact details of that position remained under wraps

"I am delighted that the board unanimously accepted my recommendations for change," Steele said "We have a hugely exciting five years ahead of us and I want to make sure we are in the best possible shape to the seize the opportunity a home World Cup gives us to grow and develop the game from the grassroots to the elite level.

"The changes we agreed will deliver a simpler management structure with clearer leadership and are changes that are right for rugby and right for the RFU. We will announce these in more detail on Thursday but until then our first priority is to talk staff through the recommendations and the next steps."

Sir Clive Woodward, England's 2003 World Cup-winning coach, has been linked with a return to the RFU as part of the shake-up. Woodward is currently employed as elite performance director at the British Olympic Association.

The recommendations have not impacted on Martin Johnson and the England coaching team, who will remain in place as previously stated until at least the World Cup later this year.

But there has been speculation the new structure could see Johnson reporting directly to Steele, the former Northampton fly-half and coach. Those changes would fit with Steele's plan to streamline the management structure and place rugby back at the heart of the RFU's remit