A group of nearly 40 Scottish rugby clubs has asked SRU president Dee Bradbury to disband the Governance Task Force she launched just a month ago.
A letter signed by 38 clubs says the Taskforce – which has begun deliberations remotely despite the Coronavirus lockdown – cannot continue in “the current lack of trust that now exists between member clubs and the (SRU) Board.”
Bradbury, the first woman president of the SRU, reaches the end of her term of office in August and even if the Union’s AGM can take place as scheduled the signatories to the club’s letter – thought to include eight in the Premiership and several from the three National Leagues – want a longer period of deliberation than seems to be the remit of the Task Force.
The Governance Task Force was established after the collapse of the plans tabled by businessman and former Scotland wing Sir Bill Gammell and the advocate Norman Murray after a six-month review. The Gammell/Murray review would have effectively disbanded the SRU Council – at present the clubs’ sole representative body in decision-making in the game in Scotland – and put more authority into the hands of the Board.
However the review was roundly rejected by the various club forums and at the “town hall” meeting of clubs on January 15 organised to have Gammell and Murray explain their proposals.
After that meeting the SRU Council agreed to drop that review and launch another, but instead in March Bradbury announced that an eight-strong Task Force chaired by herself and including board members Julia Bracewell and Adam Gray – who tragically died after heart surgery later in March – and SRU Council member Ian Rankin, the former SRU president, Edinburgh Rugby and Dundee HSFP head coach, would attempt to form a way forward that would be acceptable to the clubs.
The signatories to the club letter delivered to the President are concerned that a new plan – described by some as “just a lighter version of Gammell/Murray” – is being hastily compiled for the August AGM.
The letter says that the lack of trust between clubs and the SRU Board is “damaging and in danger of paralysing the organisation.”
“We feel it is imperative that any future revbiew on governance is conducted in the most consultative and transparent manner with the appropriate time taken to ensure it is done correctly,” the letter continues.
“There is a need to return to first principles to revise the governance and such a review must be driven by and recognise the fundamental interest of union members.
“These matters cannot be responsibly concluded in the next two months and in time for this year’s AGM. Top conduct a full governance review engaging with union members followed by the necessary consulation period will take many month, even without the current COVID-19 crisis.
“Therefore we urge you to consider the long term interests and disband the Task Force. Standing down…will allow your successor to take matters forward at the earliest opportunity, whilst allowing for the time and effort this matter it so obviously requires.”
The signatories’ demand appears to be an attempt to have member clubs seize hold of any reforming agenda – even if some do not believe there is any need for any update of the Dunlop review of governance established in 2005, other than to strengthen the SRU Council’s position oversight of the Board’s operations.