It has been just over a week
since John Steele was given his marching orders at the RFU - and there seems to
be a lot of confusion and unanswered questions.
The media has been relentless in
their character assassination of Steele, but Oval Talk feels sorry for the former
chief executive. So much criticism - and because of a confidentiality agreement,
Steele cannot defend himself.
A lot has been said about his
decision to downgrade the job specification for the performance director
position. But what many people have forgotten is he had to receive full support
from the RFU board before he could make the changes.
The RFU chairman Martyn Thomas said
in a press conference last week that he felt the performance director position
was crucial to the future of English rugby. So why agree to Steele's plans in
the first place?
And if the performance director role really is that important to the RFU then
why have they announced this week there will also be a director of rugby
appointed? The person who takes this role will effectively be between the chief
executive and rugby matters - allowing the chief executive to focus on the
business side of things.
The performance director would
have to report to the director of rugby who reports to the chief executive who
in turn is answerable to the RFU board. That performance director role is not
looking so important now.
Surely the director of rugby
would make the performance director role fall in line with the job description
Steele had devised. If that is the case, Steele could have coupled the roles of
chief executive and director of rugby.
And that begs the question of why
Steele was sacked. If the director of rugby is appointed then the main reason
Thomas and the RFU gave for removing Steele becomes redundant.
Something else that seems rather
odd is the appointment of a five-man panel - Rob Andrew, Jason Leonard, Bill
Beaumont, John Spencer and Richard Hill - to look at how performance directors
or their equivalents operate in the other major unions. Had the RFU really
thought it through, the panel would have been set up before the whole search
for a performance director had even started.
There are a lot of uncertainties
and questions surrounding Steele's dismissal; OT welcomes the internal
investigation that has been launched into the issue. It will be led by the
RFU's discipline officer Jeff Blackett and hopefully he will be able to get to
the bottom of this quandary.
Then the RFU and English rugby
can move forward and we can focus on the development of the game.