Monday, July 11, 2011

The RFU is a pale shadow of its former self

The Chairman has struggled to get too exercised about many issues recently, though a few things have caught his eye.

The continued brilliance of Mark Cavendish, in my opinion, England's only true world class sportsman. I don't say that lightly. I look at the likes of Ben Ainslie, Alastair Cook, Nick Matthew, Phillips Idowu et al, but really none of them come close to matching Cav's once in a generation genius. He wins despite the quite blatant bias of the Frog officials and the outrageous defensive tactics of his opposition. As to Wiggins, The Chairman is unconvinced. You can talk about form all you like, but I can't help thinking his fourth placed 2 years ago was a massive fluke. Get back to the track son, and work out a way to beat the pre-pubescent Aussies.

The on-going absurdity of the selection of Stuart Broad in the England cricket team, more of which in another post when I can muster the energy. But let's quickly mention Broad should NEVER have been picked in the first placd all those years ago. He was picked on the back of 3 good T20 games for Notts. It's embarrassing. It's a damning indictment of the ECB's selection policy which lest we forget also lead to the selection of Darren Pattinson, a low grade club player from Australia, to bowl his filth for an England test side. An England TEST side. Sweet jesus, its just pathetic.

And as for football, christ alive. Where to even begin. As ever, this hateful, grotesque "sport" never fails to disappoint in the close season, as tired hacks desperately try to fill their 350 words on any inane drivel. Who cares where Tevez is going? The bloke is a sociopath. An argentinian pikey who will play for whoever pays him the most. He couldn't give a flying rod about his beastly little sprogs. Again, I simply don't have the energy for another post about football. I loath it. I wish the whole game would disappear.

So to rugby. The Chairman's second love. I am watching the disintegration of the RFU, and the game, with a wide-eyed detached bemusement. Make no mistake, the RFU was the cream of the world's sporting governing bodies. It had the right balance of commercial acumen, dedication to the grass roots and player development, both personal and professional, while doing everything it could to manage the tedious, aggressive, adolescent tantrums of the increasingly cocky premiership run by the truely ghastly Mark McCafferty.

Francis Baron ruled the roost like a Victorian dad. Yes he had his faults. He was arrogant, aloof, loved the hierarchy and privilege that came with the position, a real change from running some poxy travel company. He had an Aston Martin DB7 with a personalised number plate which he drive to the office. He failed completely to build any relationships with the media who still fail to credit him with the superb job he did.

But he took over a failing sport and turned it into a powerful, successful game. He skillfully oversaw the advent of professionalism. He re-built Twickenham, made the game profitable when it was struggling, overhauled the England team. He brokered a highly complex agreement with the clubs over the future of the game. He did it all.

And in 3 short months, it came crashing down.

How on earth did this happen? How did a smooth running ship turn into this embarrassment? Christ, the RFU is starting to look as stupid as the FA, that seething, infested pit of self interest, corruption, incompetence and hate. This is the question the media are are struggling to get a grip on.

So The Chairman will have a go.

It's cos Baron left and Steele was appointed.

All this crap about Steele being a rugby man. What a joke. He is a middle manager got lucky. And he was brutally found out.

The RFU requires a set of skills meaning there is no hiding place. Steele got the job and thought he could hide. He was badly wrong. Here, his decisions actually impacted people. He came in and flung his pipsqueak weight around with ill-thought out management bollox. Ruthlessly dismantling a system developed over years under Baron.

This idiot simply did not have a clue. In trying to establish himself he messed the whole place up. And poor old Martyn Thomas was caught like a rabbit in the headlights. For years, Thomas had quietly watched Baron expertly manage the huge number of self interest groups and grade A tossers like Clive Woodward. Thomas had trust in Baron and let him get on with it. Suddenly Steele is coming in and mesing with everything and Thomas simply did not know what to do. He panicked. He looked for help from the Board but they too had'nt had to deal with this crap before. Baron had shielded the whole organisation from it.

Finally the Board realised Steele was so out of his depth, it made him look like Michael Owen at Real Madrid, they got shot of him. And we are left in the shambles we see today. This whole media narrative over the Performance Director role is just bollox. Steele's problems were far bigger than pissing around with a job description.

Let's not forget, this was the bloke who thought it appropriate to make his own daughter a mascot at a Twickers international, thus depriving any number of considerably more deserving kids the chance to meet their heroes. As I have often stated, this should have set the alarm bells ringing. But it perfectly illustrates the total obliviousness of Steele and his lefty, middle maangement ilk.

So now we have a mess with Blackett about to go, Thomas interim CEO etc etc.

Its pathetic. Just get a grip. The RFU needs to appoint a heavyweight CEO with commercial acumen. Not a weasel like Steele. This is the RFU for god's sake. There will be no shortage of highly credible candidates. They don't need to have managed some poxy rugby club before and even less a pointless national lottery funded excuse for a sporting body. Get a heavyweight CEO with PLC experience.

Appoint a performance director. Not Woodward. The bloke is a megalomaniac. If they appoint him, the media narrative will be all about him and how he doesn't "get on with the old farts" or whatever nonsense they come up with next. This is the RFU. There will be plenty of high calibre alternatives.

Take back control of the media narrative. Get the right people in place and clearly explain the strategy and roles/responsibilities. The media never understood what Rob Andrew's role was. This cannot happen again. When an organisation is opaque, it means something is wrong. There needs to be total transparency. Once this is achieved, there should be no need for the RFU to be in the press. The RFU is not the story, at least it shouldn't be.

Steele made the RFU the story. The next man needs to ensure this does not happen again.

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