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    England call in the suits

    <H1>Twickenham calls in £1m consultants to stop the playing rot</H1>

    Report to be submitted to board before Christmas
    Ending clubs v country conflict at top of agenda

    Paul Rees
    Monday December 4, 2006
    The Guardian

    <DIV id=GuardianArticle>Twickenham has employed a leading firm of management consultants to help draw a blueprint for wholesale changes in how the English professional game is run.

    The consultants will compile a report whose recommendations are due to be considered by the Rugby Football Union's management board on December 20; they have been working on the project since the summer and were taken on after the failure of the RFU to negotiate a lasting agreement with the Premiership clubs over the management of elite players.

    The decision to employ external agents to help reverse the decline, which has seen the national side fall from No1 in the world to No7 in three years, was taken a year ago after two mediocre Six Nations campaigns.

    The RFU has been accused of fiddling while the game burns, with its main actions in the last 12 months being twice to reshuffle the England management team, culminating in the departure of head coach, Andy Robinson, last week. The union's management board chairman, Martyn Thomas, said the governing body had not been sitting on its hands and acknowledged that many of the problems Robinson had to grapple with were not of his own making.

    "Andy was not the author of his own misfortune," said Thomas. "He made some mistakes but he was not served well by the system and that is why we are committed to a radical change in the way we organise and run the professional game.

    "We brought in the consultants because we wanted someone to look at our system with a fresh pair of eyes. They have travelled the world looking at how other rugby countries operate as well as other professional sports. We have worked with them over the last six months and have sent people of our own to the United States and Canada.

    "We meet the consultants on a regular basis and Rob Andrew [the RFU's director of elite rugby] has had a significant input. We expect to have their findings by the time of our management board meeting in two weeks and we would then be in a position to draft proposals for the union's council the following month.

    "We have informed the clubs that we have hired consultants and we want to work with them to ensure that we get things right. We have three main objectives: to make the health and welfare of players a priority, to get the international and club games working together so that both thrive and to get a proper return on the investments being made at the development end of the game."

    Reforms such as central contracts and splitting the Premiership into two conferences are not expected to be recommended but steps are already being taken to ensure that young Premiership players who see little first-team action are loaned out to first division clubs for experience. There are signs that England's slump is affecting the Premiership clubs.

    The drop in the RFU's profits in the last financial year meant that the upside payment to Premier Rugby, effectively a dividend, fell from £2m to £100,000, a loss of nearly £160,000 per club. "The RFU has not been idle," said Thomas. "I think the clubs share our view that something major has to be done and Rob Andrew has been invited to the last two management board meetings because he is the man who is driving this forward."

    The RFU chief executive, Francis Baron, said that since England won the 2003 World Cup other countries had improved their systems and left the Webb Ellis Cup holders lagging behind, one of the reasons the consultants, whose
    The only difference between me and a madman is that I'm not mad.
    - Salvador Dali (1904-1989)


    Management consultants, well, of course, that'll solve everything. [img]smileys/lol.gif[/img]
    For you stole Trevelyan\'s watch, So the young might see....oh, never mind....


      Originally posted by Upfront_1979

      <DIV id=GuardianArticle>

      The union's management board chairman, Martyn Thomas </DIV><!-Article is not commented: 0 ->
      Saw this guy interviewed on Sky the other day. Came across as a pompous twat who didn't seem to have much of a clue.


        wonder will they delay naming a successor to robinson until after this report is in? would make sense as any potential candidates will want to know what kind of position they will be in vis a vis the club v country row.
        The only difference between me and a madman is that I'm not mad.
        - Salvador Dali (1904-1989)


          Sack Francis Baron.

          He's gotten involved in playing matters he knows nothing about.



            Ahh its all came back to bite them in the arse. The Premiership is great, we play the best rugby, Premiership rugby toughened our forwards and won us the RWC. Our millionaire owners and teams are much superior to those provinces i mean just four teams?

            Sure enough we started professionalism a bit slow over here but we've came through, have one of the best rest systems and pre seasons in place in world rugby and for a small nation seem to be punching fairly above our weight. The foundations of bringing the boys home by gatland, the increasing techical proficiency of eddies back room team and the crazy 10 week pre season many scoffed at 2 years ago is starting to reap rewards. On top of that the academies should hopefully start yielding young players ready to make the step in the next few years and we'll be in a bloody good state of affairs.

            What do you have to say now stephen jones and paul ackford...?