President's Newsletter - December 2022
President’s Newsletter December 2022
Dear Member Clubs
I promised as part of our governance review and restructure that we would communicate directly with you via a quarterly newsletter / roadshow from 2023, however, I feel it is appropriate at this time to bring you a brief update on what the new board of the Scottish Rugby Union have commenced and completed since they took office on the 1st of November 2022.
As Chair of the Scottish Rugby Union, Professor Lorne Crerar has provided the following update:
Update from the Chair
It is my pleasure to provide an update on progress of the new Custodian Board of Scottish Rugby Union (“the Union”). On 1st November 2022 the new structure came to life with the consequence that all the assets of Scottish Rugby passed to the Union and the operating company for the business of Scottish Rugby and the management of BT Murrayfield changed its name from Scottish Rugby Union Limited to Scottish Rugby Limited (“SRL”). SRL are required to report quarterly to the Union as to their progress at a formal meeting held for that purpose.
What progress has been made by the Union so far?
Following the Special General Meeting which approved the final aspects of governance reform and in the period leading up to 1st November 2022, the current Custodians (the President, Vice President, Immediate Past President and me as Chair) with administrative support from Mark Walker met on three occasions to prepare as best we could for the new governance structure. Thereafter we had our first formal Board meeting of the Union on 1st November 2022.
These preparations involved not only the conclusion of significant amounts of legal documentation but also detailed planning to ensure the new Union Board was as well prepared as possible for the journey ahead. Various meetings were held with the Chairman of SRL, Chief Executive, Chief People & Engagement Officer, the Senior Independent Non-Executive Director of SRL and others.
Recruitment of Custodian Directors
The Union Board is to comprise the President, Vice President, Immediate Past President, an Independent Chair, two Custodians sourced through the Club network and a further two Custodians through external recruitment consultants. Following a competitive tender process, a preferred firm of recruitment consultants was engaged and was ready to action the recruitment campaign on 1st November 2022.
I am pleased to advise that the response for these external roles has been overwhelming and very positive. Over 60 senior business leaders were attracted to these unremunerated roles and it was extremely difficult to reach a manageable shortlist of the applicants. Over a two day period, together with the Chief People Officer of SRL (Shona Bell), I interviewed each of the shortlisted candidates. The result was that four very high quality candidates will go forward for final interview with the Union Board Members on 15th December 2022. My expectation is that you will be very pleased with the quality and calibre of the appointees which will be so important in the exercise of informed oversight of SRL and the operations of BT Murrayfield. I have attached below some of the feedback received as part of this process.
Market Feedback from the Consultants
- “Scottish Rugby Union as an organisation has been well received by the majority of candidates – with most candidates expressing the view the SRU is one of the most well known brands in Scotland”.
- “The term Custodian has been received well in the market. Candidates have highlighted the title as an ideal representation of the role and importance the newly created positions hold in terms of safeguarding the future of rugby in Scotland at both professional and grass roots level”.
- “Candidates have highlighted the honour they would feel fulfilling the role should they be successful”.
- “The new structure has generally been well received within the market, people see this as a positive step forward in the right direction, recognising there was a requirement for change. People are keen to see if the new structure will have the desired positive impact”.
- “Despite the reservations of some individuals – it has been unanimously felt by all candidates that they hope the new structure brings about positive change and the SRU will become an organisation that similar bodies can model themselves on”.
- “It is evident that many people have an optimistic view of the potential opportunities the SRU has available”.
Scottish Rugby Limited (SRL)
A well-managed relationship with SRL will be a key objective of the Union. It is a time of transition for all areas of the business and as well as recruitment for the Union Board, there is also much happening within SRL. I have met with the Senior Non-Executive Director on two occasions already as they embark upon the recruitment of new Non-Executive Directors and of a Chair further to a competitive process being carried out, with the assistance of an external recruitment agency. The Chair’s current term of office ends in May 2023. It has been agreed that I will be part of the selection panel for the Chair position in due course. The approval of the appointment of Chair of SRL is a reserved matter for the Union Board.
Planning for the first reporting meeting between the Union and SRL
It is anticipated that the two externally recruited Custodians will be appointed following the final interview meeting in December. A full induction meeting is being organised by BT Murrayfield for all of us Custodians followed by our first full reporting meeting with SRL. My hope is that these meetings will take place in early 2023.
The Relationship Management Agreement entered into between the Union and SRL provides for the format and content of the formal reporting meetings and included in our first Agenda will be standard items of:
- An update on progress to key milestones of Scottish Rugby’s strategy
- A report upon Budget benchmarks, and
- Any other transactions or events which have, or are likely to have, a material effect on the business or affairs of Scottish Rugby
In addition to the above, we expect to receive an update on other key matters effecting the Union, which are set out in Schedule 3 of the Relationship Management Agreement as well as an update relative to player welfare issues. We will also have a presentation from the Chair of the Nominations Committee in relation to their ongoing recruitment exercise for SRL non-executive director appointments.
For my part it has been an interesting and challenging journey so far. I believe we are as well prepared as we can be for the journey and challenges ahead.
I was very fortunate to be invited to Murrayfield and be hosted in the President’s suite for the New Zealand and Argentina games. It was very encouraging to renew many old rugby friendships and evidence so much enthusiasm for the governance changes and hopes for the future.
A consequence was reinforcing for me the significant burden of responsibility in making sure the hoped for benefits of the governance reforms are realised. Please be assured that the Custodians are absolutely committed to deliver all of our collective ambitions for Scottish Rugby.
Club Rugby Board (CRB)
Under the Chair of Vice President Keith Wallace:
The Club Rugby Board has met for the first time and whilst it consists of the former Council Members, the meeting focussed on the change of role the new structure demands. The role of the CRB is much narrower than the Council’s role but goes much deeper into the domestic game with significant responsibilities including:
- Agreeing Strategy for the Club Game
- Budget formation and implementation
- Domestic Season and Competition Structures
- Disciplinary panel membership
- Club and union support programs
- Club and union member name changes
- Training and education programs
- Oversight of match officials in domestic leagues
- Domestic game regulatory matters
- Club and amateur pathways
- Other versions of rugby eg 7s tartan touch etc
This will involve working hand in glove with the Director of Rugby Development, Gav Scott, and his Rugby Development colleagues, and it is pleasing to report that this is already going really well.
In addition to business as usual for the Rugby Development the following additional activities are planned for the rest of the season:
- Agreeing terms of reference for the various fora, so that member club voices can be consistently and regularly heard, with a focus on “competing on the field, collaborating off it”
- Agreeing reporting requirements to the new SRU Board, and from that regular quarterly communications to member clubs
- A series of work groups which will focus on pressing issues, predominately around improving the fulfilment of fixtures in the adult male game. These groups will involve individuals from Rugby Development, CRB, Clubs and the Youth Panel.
- A Club Rugby Conference at BTM, likely to be in June, where we will share best practice and get input from member clubs to a new strategy.
- A review of the effectiveness of the composition of CRB after it first six months of operation, inline with SCOG’s recommendation to keep this under review.
Finally, some initial work has commenced looking into the huge value that clubs bring to rugby and indeed to Scotland, including the considerable combined investment of finance and volunteer time, which benefits society up and down the country. In this respect it is likely that we will come to you in due course with a questionnaire which will help us capture hard evidence of this value, to then help us further promote our great game.
At the SGM held on the 28th September the members overwhelming voted in favour of allowing the custodians to appoint the two fellow custodians from within the Scottish Rugby Community. Their appointments are subject to ratification at 2023 AGM.
As President I can now update with where we are in that process. In early 2023 we will embark on what we believe to be one of the widest recruitment campaigns, featuring various social media campaigns, activity around 6 Nations, pro games as well as engagement with clubs as we seek to recruit 2 candidates from any area of the Scottish Rugby Community.
The selection panel will comprise of the current Custodians (Lorne, Keith, Ian and I) along with the two appointed Custodians referred to by Lorne, with the assistance of an external recruitment agency.
It is hoped, that we will be in a position to appoint these further two custodians by spring 2023.
I had the privilege to attend the kick off of the youth panel a few weeks ago and left full of admiration for the refreshing outlook and attitude for Rugby, volunteering, coaching and match officials.
The panel age 16 -24 are the future of Scottish Club Rugby and therefore the Club Rugby Board will seek to use their insights and outlooks to help form and drive agenda and change where required. As member clubs I would urge you to ensure your players at all levels of the game have their voices heard in your committee rooms, these voices are your clubs’ future.
Without a referee there is no game, please encourage your members to consider being part of the match official program and to respect our officials at all times.
I would also like to pay tribute to referee Hollie Davidson, who has already taken charge of a men’s cap international match between Italy and Portugal, refereed the Women’s Rugby World Cup Final between England and New Zealand and was praised for her quiet authority and calm demeanour.
Schools and Youth Finals
Can I encourage you to attend and support the boys and girls on the 7th and 10th of December as their finals are held at BT Murrayfield, finals commence at 11:00 through until the last kick off at 1830 on both days. Good luck to all!
Child Protection and Safe Guarding
I attended Scottish Rugby’s Child Protection and Safeguarding Conference on the morning of the Argentina Match along with representatives from 85 clubs across Scotland. Lesley Thomson KC, Senior Independent Non Executive Director and Chair of the ESG Committee, opened and closed the conference which featured workshops from Bill Woodside from Inequi who specialises in this area, David Black from Children 1st and Mat Wilkie from Leap sports.
Scottish Rugby acknowledges that child protection and safeguarding in sport is not just about protecting children from others who may seek to harm them. It is also about providing club members and volunteers with the education and knowledge and confidence to identify when a child is at risk and follow the correct procedures to ensure the safety and welfare of that child.
Can I please ask that ALL clubs have their CPO on the club committee or at the very least reports directly into the club committee.
Doddie was a giant of a man in many ways and his sad passing and out pouring of tributes globally from within the rugby community as well as general public shows how he, his message and tartan suits galvanised the public over recent years.
Doddie was everyone’s friend, your mate, someone who always left you with a smile on your face. I had the honour of knowing Doddie for over 40 years since we first met at school (class of 88). He didn’t change, he was always full of fun and humour !
I had the privilege of welcoming the great man into the Presidents suite a couple of weeks ago with his wife Kathy and sons, Hamish, Ben and Angus and saying a few words before he went pitch side and what a reception the BT Murrayfield crowd gave our hero in addition to the Scotland and New Zealand players.
In many ways, Doddies passing is the end of the beginning, for now, we must pick up that baton and carry on his legacy and fight against MND.
We will all have our own treasured memories of Doddie and I can guarantee you each one will leave a smile on your face. Doddie, thanks for the memories and my condolences to the Weir family and friends.
Club rugby is the foundation of our great game and I know such governance and corporate conversations can seem a bit abstract compared to say making sure you’ve got a full complement of players for a match and that you’ve got the right number of front-row forwards. I’m a great believer in doing everything we can at Scottish Rugby, collectively, to give more people the chance to experience the game of rugby and it remains my priority to get more people playing the game.
We all know there’s a challenge to retain young people in our sport, especially as they leave school and go onto pastures new.
Young people have so many more opportunities as to how they spend their leisure time than when I left school, so I think that initiatives which celebrate the fun and social aspects to be had in our sport alongside the chance to be competitive and physically active are important factors in ensuring rugby continues to be an appealing proposition.
Sometimes we forget that every player that plays for Scotland, Edinburgh or Glasgow started either at a club or school, there were no bright lights and sponsors it was Saturday mornings or Sunday afternoons.
Finally let me pay tribute to all those who have been fortunate to play in the navy-blue jersey this year. Thank you for inspiring the nation and for giving us hope and the next generation of player something to aim and aspire towards.
May I wish you, your club, community, family and friends the very best for the festive season.
Yours in Rugby
President – Scottish Rugby Union
President's Newsletter - March 2023
President’s Newsletter March 2023
Members of the Scottish Rugby Community
As President of the Scottish Rugby Union, I am taking this opportunity to update you, as promised during the governance review, on a quarterly basis on the activities of the board of the Scottish Rugby Union (The Union).
The Union is committed to improving the openness and transparency of information given directly to our stakeholders and to supplement information previously disseminated via other boards such as Scottish Rugby Limited (SRL) , the Club Rugby Board (CRB) alongside the weekly Club Comms.
As you will recall, our member clubs voted on the 29th September 2022 for a new governance structure to take effect from the 1st of November 2022. The Union Board has oversight of the activities of the SRL and CRB, the latter of which is now responsible for the community game.
I and the Union Board wish to thank all member clubs and Scottish Rugby colleagues who have assisted in implementing the new governance structure after a lengthy review process.
The Union Board is to have 8 Custodians. The current Custodians are as follows: independent Chair (Professor Lorne Crerar), the President (Colin Rigby), Vice President (Keith Wallace) and Immediate Past President (Ian Barr). We were delighted to appoint Cheryl Black and David Grevemberg as Custodians Directors in December 2022.
We are now embarking on a recruitment phase for our final two Custodians over the coming weeks. You will see activity on social media channels, adverts in the the professional and international match day programs as well as on the “big screens” at BTM in what we truly believe to be one of the furtherest reaching campaigns ever undertaken as we seek to find people to “Join our Huddle”.
We will seek ratification of these final 2 Custodians at AGM 2023 as per the SGM 2022 motion.
Custodian Induction Meeting
On the 7 February 2022, the Executive Directors and some of the senior leaders of SRL met with the Custodians to provide an induction overview of their respective areas of responsibility.
The meeting formed an important part of the Custodian induction process ahead of the first Union Reporting meeting on the 22 February 2022.
Custodian Meeting 14th February 2023
As you will have seen in the Custodian Update sent on 2ND of March 2023, the Custodians met with the SRL Chair, CEO and Chief People Officer on the 14th February 2023 in respect of an update on current player welfare issues and to be updated on the finding exercise following the vey sad passing of Scotland Women Number 8 Siobhan Cattigan. An overview of that meeting can be found in the update set out above.
Standing Committee on Governance
The Custodians approved the appointment of Sheriff Bobby Frazer as Chair of the Union’s new Standing Committee on Governance (SCOG).
SCOG’s remit is to oversee the effective implementation of the governance proposals and to advise the Union Board generally on governance matters.
We view the role of SCOG as particularly important, and I know SCOG will welcome future input and interaction with stakeholders, particularly Member Clubs at the relevant times.
Joining Bobby on SCOG will be 4 key appointees: they are –
- Nicola Johnston – an independent consultant with extensive experience in Regulatory Compliance matters, Nicola is passionate about rugby and, being a member of Progressive Rugby, takes a very keen interest in matters relating to the on-going concussion and player welfare debate. She holds a LLM in Sports Law from De Montford University and submitted her dissertation on Governance and Discipline in Rugby Union: she also has an MBA from Edinburgh Business School. Additionally, she is principal of Nicola Johnston Consulting and has recently been recognised as an Accredited Trainer by the Global Compliance Institute.
- Mark Lindsay, KC – called to the Bar in 1996 and took Silk in 2011. He has developed a particularly strong practice in public law matters, often appearing in a wide range of judicial review petitions challenging decisions of various public bodies. His commercial experience includes contractual disputes, shareholder disputes, directors’ fiduciary duties and professional disciplinary and liability matters. In 2013 Mark became a Chairman of the Police Appeal Tribunal and in 2021 he was appointed as a part-time Sheriff.
- Dougie McAndrew – a Chartered Accountant and previously a partner at Deloitte, Dougie is a director of Adam Appointments Limited, Scotland’s only specialist recruitment and talent consultancy specialising exclusively in the Corporate Governance arena. A former player at Stirling County, he represented Scotland at u18, 19 and 21 levels, has completed numerous refereeing and coaching courses since hanging up his boots and been a youth coach at both Linlithgow RFC and Currie RFC.
- Catriona Watt – a partner at Anderson Strathern, Catriona is a lawyer with significant experience in the areas of professional discipline and regulation, and heads the Professional Regulation Team at the firm. She also has a specialist practice in public inquiries and this work currently includes the Post Office IT Horizon Inquiry, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry and the Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry. She advises a wide range of public bodies, education institutions and regulators on governance, reputational issues and adult/child protection. Catriona is the past Chair of the Association of Regulatory & Disciplinary Lawyers.
Union Reporting Meeting – 22 February 2023
The Union’s first reporting meeting took place on the 22February, ahead of the meeting the Union Board received extensive Board papers from SRL, as agreed with the Custodians.
Ahead of the update from SRL, the Custodians agreed the following :
- It was agreed that the reports from SRL should focus upon an analysis of progress to targets. This will enable the Custodians to track activity to Strategic and Budgetary targets.
- That the Custodians would request sight of SRL’s risk register at each Union Reporting Meeting.
- Prof Lorne Crerar and Cheryl Black would be part of every stage of the recruitment process of the SRL Chair
- The intention of the Union is that there will be a presentation from the Chair of one of the SRL Sub Committees at each quarterly Union Reporting Meeting. The first sub committee presentation was from Nominations.
During the SRL update, the following key points were noted by the Union Board:
- The Chair of SRL updated the Union on the discussions at World Rugby level on the global calendar and related matters.
- The CEO updated the Union on the current rugby landscape and the affect that it had on Scottish Rugby as a consequence.
- On field performance and associated matters were discussed.
- A commercial overview was also provided, and the Custodians were able to ask questions.
The format of reporting at the Union Meetings was discussed and it was agreed that the Union should be updated on progress towards strategic goals as well as the other reporting headings outlined in the RMA.
The CFO updated the Union on a variety of topics related to the financial progress of the organisation.
As the end of year is approaching, financial discussions took place in relation to the audit and other end of year considerations. The Chair of the Union agreed to meet the CFO of SRL to discuss the matter in more detail.
The Vice President, as Chair of CRB, and the Director of Rugby Development presented the activities of CRB to date.
Having only been formed in November, mid-way through the SRL Financial Year, the CRB has been busy trying to cram what will become an annual cycle into about 3-4 months, in order that they are in a position to input into the Budget and Strategy Cycle for FY 23/24. The CRB have created a programme of works which is being monitored.
There has been much focus on Governance as CRB seek to manage the change required to implement the new Structure, in particular CRB having more direct responsibility than Council, and the need to act as Board.
CRB has and is continuing to build relationships and are pleased to report the following:
- The working relationship between CRB members and Rugby Development is excellent, a testament to the need for the new structure, but more pertinently the individuals involved.
- CRB has been developing relationships with High Performance and had initial discussions on the three main areas which cut across both parts of the game; namely player pathways; Super 6; and the Professional Teams.
- The Director of Rugby Development and the Vice President as Chair of the CRB had a very useful meeting with their opposite numbers in the other home Unions. It was open and constructive, and whilst the Unions have many differences in scale, structure and approach, the issues are the same.
In the short term CRB have a set of work groups underway to help address immediate issues as follows:
- Regional Leagues
- Reserve Leagues
- Match Officials
- Transition and Retention
- Scrum School
- District Championship
Of which Regional Leagues/Reserve Team Rugby is the most pressing, and indeed challenging. Here we are likely to see a range of local solutions to local problems since one size will not fit all.
In the medium term CRB has begun planning a Club and Community Conference in June, to share updates, best practice and get Clubs and Schools input to the process to develop a new strategy for 2024 and beyond.
CRB Key Issues in Period
- We are giving active consideration to the tackle height proposals and have consulted with Clubs in during 5 webinar during February.
- In regard to the openness of the game, Scottish Rugby launched the new confidential email “Tell Us” in February. This work is ongoing and will continue to evolve.
CRB Programme of Works
CRB has developed a programme of works which seeks to map out the period from inception to the end of the season, a point at which any papers for decision with the Clubs (such as those emerging from working groups), and any impacts emerging on forum elections, will need to be complete.
The programme also includes meeting timings so that CRB meetings happen in advance of SRL and SRU Board meetings and suit key planning timescales for budget and strategy matters.
The programme is fairly intensive in the current period as we seek to resolve via working parties the main issues which were carried over from last season. This sees members of CRB each involved in several working groups. The latest version is appended.
There has been much focus on Governance as we seek to manage the change required to implement the new Structure, in particular CRB having more direct responsibility than Council, and needing to act as Board. As a result, at our first formal quarterly board meeting, we had a significant Board Pack issued in advance including with respect to Governance:
- Terms of Reference (ToRs) for CRB and for Forums, which will be finalised shortly. Of note a key part of the latter is to encourage coverage of all parts of the game, not just 1st XV male.
- A Draft Set of KPIs, to allow CRB to oversee Rugby Development’s progress against plan.
- The first sight of the overall Rugby Development Budget with far more granularity than shared before. Key focus will be on how we distribute the funds going forwards with initial focus on levelling up funding in the women’s game to cope with growth, and starting to fund minis, to encourage those who are growing the game, and bringing greater sustainability over the coming years.
The intention of the custodians on a quarterly basis is to have a presentation from the Chair of one of the SRL Sub Committees which are currently
Custodian Recruitment Update
As mentioned above, the Custodian Director recruitment campaign has launched. The recruitment site is www.joinourhuddle.co.uk
We have a range of multi-channel assets that have been developed for the campaign and below is the timeline of the promotional communications activity which is taking place until the 11th of April to ensure coverage across both the Mens and Womens 6 Nations.
It is our aim to appoint Custodians, if possible, by the end of May 2023.
It was noted that there had already been some early applicants.
The President asked about the status of the website upgrade and re population of information. The re population of documents and the new governance structure was being finalised and should shortly be available.
The Senior Solicitor will review and would update the Custodians.
Maternity Leave / Pay for Scotland Woman players, Officials and Coaches
The President enquired in light of last weeks announcement from the RFU in regard to Maternity Leave for the Red Roses players, if SRL had considered this for the Scottish Rugby employed players?
In response the CEO said not at the current time as we have only just concluded contacts with 28 players, but noted that as Scottish Rugby employees, currently the standard employee maternity policy would apply.
- International Honours
The President raised the question of recognising those players who played in the Victory Internationals and “Scotland” XV games to see what recognition can be bestowed , especially in the Unions 150th Year. This recognition should also be for referees who have refereed International games, for both men’s and women’s Internationals and should provide a combined “cap” number, where applicable.
It is hoped this project and scoping of works could commence at the conclusion of the 6 Nations Championship.
AGM Provisional Date
Due to the 2023 World Cup provisional date for the Scottish Rugby Union AGM is, Saturday 18th November 2023.
Finally, Professor Lorne Crerar provides the following update to member clubs:
Governance Reform – The Journey so far
I am very aware that there is much relief that governance issues no longer dominate thinking and energy in Scottish Rugby. It is however the key focus of the Union Board (the Custodians) to make sure the aspirations of the review of governance of Scottish Rugby come to life as envisaged and leads to the hoped for changes.
As the President has already mentioned our two externally recruited Custodians ,David Gravenberg and Cheryl Black are now in post .The recruitment of our two further Club Non Executive Custodians is well in hand.
Our initial meetings with SRL have now taken place and the exercise of informed oversight has begun. There has been the inevitable initial “getting up to speed”and our third reporting meeting with SRL will take place later this month. At that meeting we will have further updates from the SRL Chair, Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer on strategy and budget progress as well as any material matters affecting Scottish Rugby, its wellbeing and brand . We will receive a report upon the updated position of the fact-finding exercise for the Siobhan Cattigan tragedy and hoped for outcomes. As part of our learning journey, we will have an additional presentation upon the strategy for the Women’s game in Scotland.
We are determined to be as informed as possible as to the key matters for Scottish Rugby to challenge and influence the Strategy and Budget for the next financial year 23/24.
Our journey so far as Custodians has been predictably challenging but I can assure you good progress is being made. The Custodians are uniformly of the view that the aspirations of the governance review will be achieved in the interests of the owners (the Clubs).
Professor Lorne Crerar
May I wish you well as your season comes to a close.
Yours in Rugby
President – Scottish Rugby Union
President's Newsletter - August 2023
Presidents Newsletter – August 2023
I trust this newsletter finds you all well.
As we continue into the late summer, I want to update you on a variety of matters, looking back on the season complete as well as to the future.
I am delighted that from the start of June, the Custodian Board of the Scottish Rugby Union is now at full complement with the appointment of Maxine Manditch and Alison Milne, further information can be found at News – Scottish Rugby.
I am also pleased to announce that the Chair of the Scottish Rugby Union Board has extended his term to 3 years. This concludes the period of transition and our recruitment of the Union Board.
I would like to thank all those who applied, your thoughts and views on Scottish Rugby were enlightening, encouraging and very much food for thought. I also wish to place on record my thanks to Carlyle Associates, Wiser and the Chief People & Engagement Officer at Scottish Rugby for their assistance in bringing the recruitment process alive and assisting to conclusion.
Scottish Rugby Union Board Matters
We also welcomed in May, John McGuigan News – Scottish Rugby as Chair of Scottish Rugby Limited. John has had a busy start to his role at Scottish Rugby, joining as we finalise budget and strategy for the next financial year as well as embarking on planning for the next 4-year cycle from June 2024, in addition to supplementing the non-executives on SRL board, through the appointments of Alexandra Whelan, Ruth Davidson and Mike Souter.
It was my pleasure to invite John to the national awards evening at BTM and Maxine and Alison to the Community Game Conference I am sure I speak on behalf of all stakeholders in wishing all new appointees’ success in their respective roles.
What a season it has been for our international game. Scotland’s men go into the rugby world cup off the back of a third-place finish in the Six Nations Championship and are currently ranked 5th in the world.
Scotland Women, fresh from victories against Italy and Ireland are now 9th in the world and are building toward the WXV in South Africa in October.
Good luck to our national teams in the months ahead.
Our high-performance match officials continue to make strides in the professional game. Congratulations are due to Hollie Davidson who has been appointed as the first female referee to be appointed to the Men’s Under 20 World Cup.
Without match officials there would be no game and I encourage all clubs to have a couple of members go through the refereeing courses.
Key points to note:
Stadium Development –
Initial investigatory work is about to take place to assess the condition of the stadium and look at practical development of the estate infrastructure.
Financial performance – the cyclical nature of the organisation’s finances over a four-year period, with substantial fluctuations during Rugby World Cup years was highlighted. It was noted that there was an intention to move the reporting year end for 2023/24 from 31 May to 30 June to align Scottish Rugby with the year ends of other key partners and player contracting periods. The importance of the base business model being sustainable in a four-year cycle was highlighted.
Super Series It was highlighted that the Super Series was reaching the end of its initial term. A review of the tournament was commencing in June 2023, carried out by the High-Performance department with the input of the Rugby Development Department. As part of the review, feedback from clubs of all levels would take into account to understand the impact of the tournament on the club game. The Club Rugby Board will be fully involved in the review process.
SRU Nominations Committee – the board confirmed that the SRU Chair, President, Immediate Past President, and C Black would form the SRU Nominations Committee.
Club Rugby Board (CRB)
CRB has been busy concluding the activities in the programme of works set out for this season.
Update on Key Activities
- Tackle Height Trial This is still progressing well and the first sessions on training and education have commenced.
- Community Game Conference
the Questionnaire feeding into this has been issued to clubs and there has been a strong response. The outcomes will shape the themes for the “your say in the new strategy” session.
- Regional League Review
This has been communicated to clubs, as have the first drafts of the season structure per league. Once confirmed, work will begin on structuring cup and inter district competition windows.
- Scrum School This continues to go well.
- Transition and Retention, Match Officials, Schools and Youth, and Clubs and Schools
Good progress is being made on all four of the above projects and reviews.
- Inter District Rugby
The Inter District Championship was won by Caledonian Reds on Sunday 21st May, in a pulsating match which went to the wire at GHA in Glasgow. The proof of concept was a great success with a strong appetite from the management, coaches and players and very healthy attendances totalling around 3000 on the three days. There is a review meeting scheduled with the working party where the main area to agree will be where best to place within the season structure, to optimise fit with other competitions and player release.
- 2. Governance
- Relationships between Rugby Development and CRB Elected Members remain very open and positive as everyone settles into their roles in the new structure.
- Good progress has been made on election rules and report preparation for CRB meetings.
- Rugby Development have held their end of season regional reviews, which were attended where possible by CRB members. These were very open and constructive and showcased the excellent work being undertaken.
- Looking Ahead
Final CRB meeting of the season was on 28 June to look at Rugby Development work plans for 23/24 Season and finalised budgets.
The setting up of the working group to help improve the links between clubs and the pro-teams as requested by the pro-team MDs and welcomed by CRB.
The drafting of a new CRB programme to meet the strategy and budget.
National Community Recognition Awards
What a grand way to wrap up the domestic season, recognising and sharing our gratitude to the countless volunteers within our sport who make what we do not only possible, but special, fun and enjoyable. Congratulations to all nominees and winners, your enthusiasm and inspiration is infectious.
Further details are be found following the link below:
Community Game Day
Energy, Enthusiasm, Collaboration, Inspiration, Excitement, Positivity is some of the words that can be used describe our recent Community Game Day at BTM attended by around 400 players, coaches, administrators and match officials.
Thank you for your attendance, participation and feedback.
During the day delegates were had a state of the nation address from Rugby Development Director Gavin Scott and insights around player numbers and availability was more than thought provoking, before we all headed into a variety of workshops around tackle height, good practice, woman and girls, transition and retention, club development planning, state school strategy as well as coach and match official workshops.
As intimated earlier, part of the CRB forward looking plan is to create a new 4 year strategy for implementation from summer of 2024 and the have your say session will form the backbone of that, utilising IT delegates were able to participate and respond to a series of themes:
- Adult Male Participation
- Youth Pathway
- Match Official Abuse
- Under 18 into Adult Transition
- Promoting the Community Game
Update from the Chair of Scottish Rugby Union- Professor Lorne Crerar
“It has been a busy and formative time for the SRU Board of Custodians. We have held meetings with the Board of Scottish Rugby Limited (SRL) on two occasions in February, once in March and most recently in May. As a Custodian Board we have been anxious to ensure we are as fully up to date as possible with the business, opportunities and challenges for Scottish Rugby as we move towards considering the budget and strategy for financial year 2023/24.
It has been very encouraging that so many well qualified individuals have applied for the Custodian roles on the SRU Board with the consequent very difficult decisions of selection. I am delighted the Custodian Board is now at full complement to continue the journey to action the aspirations of the governance review.
There has been much change too with SRL who now have a new Chair, John McGuigan, who is settling in to his new role. The Custodian Board was very involved in his recruitment process with a high number of extremely well qualified candidates to consider. I have had several very worthwhile meetings with John designed to set a joint agenda to ensure a detailed collaborative effort to meet the opportunities and challenges going forward for Scottish Rugby.
The embedding of the new governance arrangements is well underway and as Chair I am happy to reassure our member clubs that our collective aspirations for purposeful governance reform of the organisation of Scottish Rugby is making positive progress working towards the outcomes of transparency and accountability which are the cornerstones of the objectives of change.
At our July Meeting with the Board of SRL we discussed and agreed the strategy and budget for financial year 2023/24. Now our regular quarterly meetings with SRL will focus upon progress to meet those agreed budgetary and strategic objectives and thereafter to report to the member clubs as required by the new governance arrangements.
I was very pleased to be asked to continue my Chair appointment until October 2025. It is an enormous privilege which comes with the significant responsibility of making the new governance arrangements meet the needs of the Clubs and all stakeholders in Scottish Rugby. I am determined to ensure the aspirations of the reform of governance of Scottish Rugby are delivered on your behalf. I look report upon our recent important meeting with SRL”.
In closing, as President of Scottish Rugby, thank you for your contributions to Scottish Rugby in the season past. Congratulations to those who won leagues, cups, promotions and to those who less successful – there’s always next season!
I wish you a glorious remainder of the summer, reset and recharge for season 2023/24 for it will soon be upon us.
President's Newsletter - August 2023
As we approach late-August a familiar routine returns as the summers starts to unwind, schools return, festivals and Highland Games, 7’s are in full swing and pre-season friendlies and leagues commence for the domestic game.
This summer of course has kept us all on the edge of our seats with the mens international game’s summer series heading towards the World Cup in France.
There are many privileges being your elected President, visiting clubs throughout Scotland hearing of your plans and journeys to date and I am forever in awe of your support for the game of Rugby Union in the roles of player, coaches, match officials, volunteers, sponsors and supporters that you fulfil. I am reminded of this when I have the pleasure of representing you, our stakeholders at events such as the King’s Service of Thanksgiving in early July and at the international games that I attend. The common bond, values and principles of rugby run deep throughout the world; we truly are as one.
The summer months of course has seen for our game some welcome changes in how we will play the game in the coming season through the tackle height law, it will however take time for us all to become used to it, please support our players and match officials as we implement.
You will note from the latest Scottish Rugby Union Board minutes from 28th July that the Union’s Custodians continue to meet regularly and at the latest meeting the forthcoming financial year’s budget was signed off. We also discussed and were fully supportive of the Scottish Rugby Limited’s proposal to create a 10 year strategy , which will help shape the future direction of the sport.
Whether it is the domestic game, SuperSeries, pathways or the professional game it is is imperative that we have all components aligned and over the coming months a great deal of consultation of all aspects of our game will be required and rugby development’s work in this area will form part of the wider Union strategy that is being developed.
For those 400 plus delegates who attended the Community Day in June, your thoughts have been captured, analysed and the Club Rugby Board will meet in late August to discuss the findings and themes to take forward to the next stage.
The minutes of the Scottish Rugby Union Board Meeting in July are available here.
REPORT FROM THE CHAIR OF SRU
The journey since the new governance arrangements came into being on 1 November 2022 has been both challenging and interesting. The SRU Custodian Board is now fully populated with the recruitment campaigns generating huge interest and consequent large numbers of applications for these custodian roles. The operating company for Scottish Rugby – Scottish Rugby Limited (SRL) – has also been through a period of very significant change with a new Chair being appointed in May. The new Chair John McGuigan has since appointed a series of non-executive Directors who match the skills matrix required to manage and direct the business and brand of Scottish Rugby.
The SRU Board meet with the SRL Board upon a regular quarterly cycle to be provided with an update upon progress to budget and strategy. We also receive details and explanations of actions for material matters affecting Scottish Rugby. It follows that the recent meeting on 28 July between SRU and SRL was very important representing a key milestone in the new governance arrangements as we received a detailed presentation upon the proposed budget for financial year 23/24 as well as the hoped for outcomes of the current Scottish Rugby’s strategy which takes us to the end of the financial year (30 June 2024). As you will note from the Minutes both the budget and strategy were approved. SRL will also now all embark upon the journey of consultation and engagement of a new 10 year strategy for Scottish Rugby recognising the challenges for our game as well as the significant opportunities.
The next joint meeting for the SRL Board and SRU Board is scheduled for Tuesday 29 August at which we will receive an update upon progress to our now agreed budgetary and strategic objectives. In addition we will receive a report concerning other material matters affecting Scottish Rugby as well as a progress report from the Club Rugby Board.
I am pleased to advise that much progress has been made over the last months and that the vision and aspirations of the owners of Scottish Rugby (the members) for an open, transparent and effective set of new governance arrangements is well and truly coming to life.
I can also report that a sub-group of the Board of SRU and SRL, under the Chairmanship of John McGuigan, has been established to ensure as much transparency as possible from the fact finding exercise of Pinsent Masons and to action consequent lessons learned in relation to the sad passing of Siobhan Cattigan
Professor Lorne D Crerar, Chair of SRU
On the International Stage, Congratulations to Team Scotland who produced an outstanding performance to win gold at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Tobago defeating Fiji in extra time to win gold in a pulsating sevens encounter.
At the other end of the age spectrum, I am delighted Scottish Rugby is to honour retrospectively more than 50 players who represented their country in matches that, at the time, did not carry Test cap status.
Those individuals who wore the thistle with pride and distinction, whether in Services or Victory internationals during and after the Second World War, or who played under the label of a ‘Scotland XV’ against other nations, will now join the fabled ranks of the 1,140 other men to have been capped by Scotland since 1871. Given this year marks the 150th anniversary of the formation of the Union, we wanted to look afresh at our history and recognise the rich and enduring contribution those players have made to our game.
Following the research, to award retrospective caps in the men’s game, Scottish Rugby will also ensure that all players to have represented Scotland Women will receive a cap, as the physical cap presentation was not always a part of the women’s game in the past. We will also embark on a project to ensure that all our international referees in both the men’s and women’s game, will be recognised with a physical cap.
The Famous Grouse Summer Series has provided a good performance against Italy and a game of 2 half’s against France at Scottish Gas Murrayfield – what a second half performance and the game in Saint Etienne was without doubt one of the best atmospheres, hottest and enthralling games of rugby I have witnessed.
Our woman’s team play Spain at the end of September at the Hive Stadium before heading to the WXV 2 competition in South Africa in October.
May I wish both teams the very best of luck in their respective tournaments.
I started the summer months at Lenzie Rugby Club celebrating 125 years of rugby and I end the summer at Greenock Wanderers Rugby Club celebrating their 150th Year on the 19th of August. I congratulate all clubs celebrating milestones in the coming season.
As we approach the season ahead, I wish you, your club and all connected with our game, fun, friendship and success in however you wish to define it.
Yours in rugby
Scottish Rugby Union President
President's Newsletter - September 2023
I hope this newsletter update finds you well and enjoying the domestic seasons being back with games being played in an unusually hot environment. I always find the start of the new season exciting as each clubs aspirations start to become reality over the coming eight months.
Of course this season has the added excitement of a Rugby World Cup in France, I write this newsletter on the way back from Marseille , having also attended the Opening Ceremony and game as your representative as President and look forward to our next group games against Tonga, Romania and Ireland over the coming weeks. Thank You for all your support at home and in France as well as messages , it truly is appreciated by the squad and management.
In the past week your clubs will have had notification of the date of the SRU AGM, 18 November 2023 which will be in hybrid format. If I may draw your attention to a couple of matters as this will be the first AGM under the new governance structure.
- Proxy Voting – this will allow you to cast your vote in advance of the meeting, IF your club can not attend in person or via hybrid format it is extremely important that your vote is part of the decision making process – In addition your proxy vote also counts towards making the meeting quorate.
- Motions – Since we now operate under company law rather than through our old bye laws there are some small changes on how motions maybe brought to the meeting , we shall under separate cover in the coming weeks provide you with a clear process on how to submit if you so desire with timelines.
- Financial Town-hall – Following on from the success of the inaugural financial town hall session last year prior to the AGM, CFO Hilary Spence will do so again, having listen to feedback, this will be early evening rather than during the afternoon.
One of the keys objectives of the Governance Review in relation to the management and running of the business of Scottish Rugby was to ensure that the Member Clubs /Owners were as up to date as practically possible with the opportunities ,challenges and developments affecting the wellbeing and brand of Scottish Rugby . The Minutes of the meeting between the Custodian Board and Scottish Rugby Limited (“SRL”) on 29th August will,I hope, make interesting reading showing a direction of travel of progress ,transparency and openness .Together with the information contained in the President’s Newsletter I believe it shows progress is being made in ensuring all of Scottish Rugby’s stakeholders are as up to date as possible with developments affecting our game .
As a consequence of the regular quarterly meetings between the Custodian Board and SRL my hope is that the full disclosure in the Minutes with accompanying explanation will provide an ongoing, very meaningful description of the activities of SRL and the Custodian Board.
A key next stage in the journey of Scottish Rugby is the consultation and thereafter creation of a new strategy for Scottish Rugby.
Outside world cup commitments I have visited Mackie Rugby where they played Caithness in the league and it was of much interest listening to the challenges our clubs in Caledonian face through travel to fulfil fixtures , in this particular example around 10 hours round trip – I thank all clubs who regularly manage that commitment.
It was also interesting to hear of the proposed facility development at Mackie Rugby and I wish them well in their ambition. Equally exciting was listening to other clubs and their plans and aspirations for the future and how to grow the net base of players throughout Scotland as part of the Club Capital Investment process.
I appreciate that our volunteers have heavy demands placed on their time however may I ask you all to consider attending , along with players, one of our strategy roadshows, this is a further chance to have your say on the future of the club game and build on themes and outcomes from the Club Community Day.
It would be greatly appreciated if you were able to circulate to your contacts the registration link (https://forms.office.com/e/M16FTPm41k) to help increase registrations. Full details, including a couple of short videos from Keith Wallace Vice President and Chair of Club Rugby Board and Gavin Scott Director of Rugby Development can be found here – https://scottishrugby.org/clubs-and-schools/strategy-24-28-roadshows/
Same Game, Different Shirt
Match Officiating is a great way to stay involved in the sport, keep fit, enhance your knowledge of the laws or to progress through the officiating pathway. No matter what the reason, officiating is a rewarding, exciting, and enjoyable way to stay involved in rugby.
Throughout the Rugby World Cup, Scottish Rugby has a number of opportunities to take your first steps towards becoming a match official. Linking in with live screenings of the Scotland Men v Tonga RWC match, four courses are planned on Sunday 24 September. On Saturday 30 September, there is also an opportunity to complete the Introduction to Match Officiating course before attendant the Scotland Women v Spain autumn test match at Hive Stadium (including a complimentary ticket), with female only and open courses planned.
Good luck to you all in your up coming matches at all levels of our game and to both our Men’s and Women’s National teams during the Rugby World Cup and WXV2.
Yours in rugby
President Scottish Rugby Union
Scottish Rugby President Colin Rigby hailed a “significant milestone” for the game in Scotland when member clubs agreed a new governance structure at an online special general meeting on September 28 2022.
The new structure, based on the recommendations on the Standing Committee on Governance (SCOG), sees the new Scottish Rugby Union (a company limited by guarantee) take on the responsibility for the oversight of the organisation’s main operating vehicle, Scottish Rugby.
It also will provide an oversight function to the organisation’s members.
Professor Lorne Crerar CBE, Interim Chair of the new Scottish Rugby Union, pledged to the SGM that “all the promises for a new, well-functioning governance system will absolutely be delivered.”
Professor Crerar also called on the membership to play its part in finding the “very best talent” to serve as “custodians” on the new company’s board.
Colin Rigby thanked members, SCOG, the Scottish Rugby Council and Scottish Rugby’s employees for their patience, while the new structure was arrived at.
He added: “This is a significant milestone in the history of the Scottish Rugby Union where all stakeholders now have clarity around governance, roles and responsibility.”
John Jeffrey remains chairman of the Scottish Rugby Board which will continue to oversee the day-to-day operational, commercial and executive functions of Scottish Rugby.