Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Football Union could be in for a long day during this @Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee
MP @Robin Walker
already calling into question the robustness of the fit and proper tests used when new directors enter the sport.
Foundation CEO Carol Hart adds that the RFU and others should have been quicker to react, and that she’s surprised the former owners haven’t been banned by the Prem or RFU from owning a rugby club. Ouch.
@Worcester Warriors @#RugbyWorcs
PM Robin Walker agrees that it’s hard not to reach the conclusion that one of the former owners lied on forms.
Committee chair @Julian Knight MP
asks whether there’s been fraud at play.
Walker agrees there needs to be thorough investigations.
The DCMS committees chair says he struggles to see how police cannot be involved after today’s facts came to light.
Also asks whether the former owners were asset strippers, no denials in response.
“This is avoidable with better governance” - bomb line from Robin Walker in the DCMS committee.
Calls from those in the committee on other club owners to play fair in the coming weeks.
“We felt like our governing bodies were sleepwalking through this nightmare… and still are” - scathing attack from Hart towards Prem Rugby and the RFU
Great Q from @Damian Green MP
‘Did pro rugby run before it walked, is it not that viable?’ (Paraphrasing)
‘rugby has relied on nice [and wealthy] strangers’ (again, paraphrasing)
Foundation CEO Carol Hart on Cecil Duckworth:
“I’m grateful he’s not here to see what’s going on here but if he was still here this wouldn’t have happened”
Independent MP @Rupa Huq MP
doesn’t go so far as demanding it but asks whether a rugby fan review should be commissioned (like the football fan review).
No one objects.
Would be a MAJOR move for the sport.
And with that, the first session is over.
- Suggestions of fraud
- Suggestions of rugby fan review
- RFU and Prem Rugby accused of sleepwalking
Governing bodies to reply in the coming hour
@Julian Knight MP
asks why there’s no ongoing tests.
RFU Chair Bill Sweeney says it was a learning.
Knight says it should have been obvious. “Was there any discussion about a regular test?”
Sweeney says no.
Knight says the RFU lived in isolation and were asleep
@Julian Knight MP
questions Bill Sweeney’s position.
“Shouldn’t you be looking at your position?”
Also says the RFU are in an ivory tower
Sweeney confirms RFU gave WW no £ support… cites that they’re private companies.
Prem Rugby chief Simon Massie-Taylor suggests (when presented with his own sympathetic tweets): they couldn’t do much
“There’s your mouth [in SMT’s tweets] but where’s the money” - @Julian Knight MP
“I’ve dealt with football, but I’ve barely ever come across something as shambolic - a lack of care, a lack of thought of people in your own game - as this in my entire time as a select committee member since 2016.”
@Julian Knight MP
scathes Prem Rugby + RFU
@#RugbyWorcs @City A.M.
SMT acting like most in the Palace of Westminster. Smart deflector.
Will use learnings, go back to investors, and see whether more can be done to secure the future of the community schemes.
It’s good politics if nothing else.
“For the long term future of the professional club game in this country, I’d have thought now’s the time to be legalistic and time to be generous,” says @Damian Green MP
SMT says you need to take into account other clubs who will lose money from WW and Wasps not being around.
Judith Batchelar, chair of the @The RPA
, says players were left in the dark.
Other sports have better systems of insurance if stuff hits the fan.
Lessons must be learned for governance (common theme)
“Did the two people next to you (Prem chief and RFU chief) fail the players?,” Batchelar is asked.
Says @The RPA
get funding from RFU.
questions why the RPA spend half of their £3m turnover on salaries. Adds she is concerned about lack of support mechanism in RPA
Batchelar says they’re re-looking at their remit following @Julie Elliott
suggestion that the @The RPA
isn’t fit for purpose.
It’s not all doom and gloom.
SMT says @Gloucester Rugby
would probably have broken even this year given the way the club is run (hampered by no home Worcester game).
BUT it’s interesting that breaking even is seen as a shining light in Premiership Rugby.
The bar is low.
Chair @Julian Knight MP
asks whether a reduction in the number of teams could lead to growth.
SMT states that there must be alignment between top flight and championship.
25 years too late?
Bill Sweeney denies Worcester department heads and others gave warnings over the demise of the club.
Sweeney goes on to rebuke figures suggested by @Kevin Brennan MP
surrounding RFU finances.
.@Kevin Brennan MP
: “why would one of your predecessors make up figures”
BS: “I don’t know”
Brennan asks whether international game is a healthy hand on a diseased arm.
SMT responds saying relationship between league and union has never been stronger.
DCMS chair to Simon Massie-Taylor:
“If this happened in the Premier League that would be four clubs… the head of the league would resign on the spot.
“I don’t know who you can come to this committee today and say what you’ve said with a straight face, frankly”
Committee goes on to discuss concussion – online piece from me coming in minutes