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RFU reject 'unfounded' accusations

The Rugby Football Union has branded former chief executive Francis Baron's accusations of "gross mismanagement" within the organisation as "totally unfounded".

Baron called for disciplinary action to be taken against members of the RFU Board in an interview in the Daily Telegraph, claiming they had allowed a "complete collapse in governance standards" to take place.

The RFU hit back, saying in a statement: "The Rugby Football Union is disappointed by the continued criticism by the former chief executive, Francis Baron, whose latest remarks contain allegations that are totally unfounded and unworthy of a former chief executive with 12 years distinguished service."

Martyn Thomas and fellow board members Rob Udwin, John Spencer, Ian Metcalfe, Jonathan Dance and Peter Baines were asked to resign in the highly-critical review by Judge Jeff Blackett into the June sacking of chief executive John Steele.

Thomas last month resigned as chairman over the matter, although he remains acting chief executive until a successor to Steele is found.

But Steele's predecessor Baron, who served between 1998 and 2010, told the Telegraph: "I believe the right way forward is for the RFU to convene a disciplinary hearing to evaluate the allegations in the Blackett review and to allow those who feel they have been wrongly accused a fair opportunity to present their case and be legally represented.

"It is the right way forward because it is fair to our membership, because they want to see something happen, but is it also fair to the people who have been accused of wrongdoing. If that happens, the council has got to suspend those board members, pending the outcome of the hearing, as would happen in any other walk of life."

The RFU Council voted not to publish the Blackett review at their last meeting on July 10, after its author was threatened with legal action over its contents.

The council reconvene on Friday and could call for a vote of no confidence in the board if the latter refuse to make the Blackett review public.

The RFU statement continued: "As is widely known, the RFU Board and RFU Council are both meeting this Friday, when a number of these issues will be addressed, including whether to release the Blackett report. Following the meeting, a formal announcement will be made by Paul Murphy, acting chairman of the RFU."

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