Understanding the RFU

How well do you understand the RFU? Do you know how it is administered and how policies are formed? As the Council Member for the Royal Navy I represent you i.e. all the clubs in membership of the Royal Navy Rugby Union and also the RNRU itself on the policy making body of the Rugby Football Union. For those of you who remember, Council is that illustrious body described in less than flattering terms characterised by age and flatulence by the then England Captain, Will Carling. Well although it still tends towards the more mature membership I am pleased to report that the average age is coming down and there seems to be a trend for younger Council Members to be selected by the clubs in membership of the Union. The Council is the Game's policy making body in England. It has representation from all Constituent Bodies, Students, Schools, Referees, the Premiership, National League One, National Clubs Association and National Members (two former senior players selected for their experience at the highest level of the game, currently Jeff Probyn and Simon Haliday). There are also a number of co-opted members who sit on the Council due to the post they hold, e.g. Bill Beaumont, who is one of the RFU's representatives at the iRB, and my predecessor HHJ Jeff Blackett, who is the RFU's Disciplinary Officer. As you can imagine the representation ensures that there is significant breadth and depth of rugby knowledge, from all areas of the Game, within Council. So what is the purpose of Council? This question is probably best answered by the 'Objects of the Union' namely: · To administer the Game as its Governing Body in England. · To promote, encourage and extend the Game throughout England including the coaching thereof, its development in Schools and at all youth levels and the recruitment and training of referees. · To ensure that the Game is played in accordance with the Laws of the Game and is administered in accordance with iRB Regulations. · To assist the development and playing of the Game throughout the world. · To arrange International, Representative, Trial and other Matches and Tours in England and in other Countries. · To provide, maintain and operate a National Stadium or Stadia and to develop the same for use by Members and others on payment or otherwise. As you can imagine the remit bounded by the Objects is broad and as a consequence much of the business of the Union is undertaken by committees. There are four standing committees and a number of sub-committees and ad-hoc task groups. The four standing committees are as follows: · Club England – representative rugby and the elite game · Finance and Funding · Governance · Community Rugby – all other rugby not covered by Club England. It is my intention to give some background on each standing committees in subsequent articles. If the committee structure conducts most of the detailed work then the affairs of the Union are administered on behalf of Council by the Management Board. The Management Board consists of its Chairman, the President of the RFU, the Chairmen from each standing committee, elected representatives from Council, the RFU CEO and the RFU Finance Director. Many powers are delegated to the Management Board from Council and also the CEO is empowered to deliver against his Terms of Reference within approved budgetary limits. However the Council reserves a number of powers. These ensure that the Council remains the final policy making forum, approves the annual budget, approves regulation changes and is the final arbiter on disciplinary matters. Also it is only through Council that proposals to change the Laws of the Game can be represented to the iRB. Council meets on a least five occasions each year. The management Board meet almost monthly as well as having conference calls and the standing committees tend to meet four of five times each year. Outside of this much of the business is conducted through e-mail, phone calls and bi-lateral meetings throughout the season. I am currently a member of the Governance Standing Committee, the Referee Sub-Committee and the National League Task Group. This in conjunction with my Navy Rugby tasks ensures that there is a steady stream of e-mails requiring thought and consideration as well as committee meetings and work groups to attend. Furthermore, in my short time on the Council, I have found that problems are very rarely as simple as they first seem and that even small changes in regulations can have significant knock-on effects to other rules and regulations. Also it is interesting that many of the issues that face the playing of rugby in the Navy are shared by a wide cross section of the rugby playing community and that there is a great deal of good practice that we can emulate and also we have many good practices to share. By Geraint Ashton Jones