President's Newsletter - Tuesday 6 December
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
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.