Brittle kept in place but loses power: Rugby Union

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Cliff Brittle, chairman of the Rugby Football Union executive committee, retained his power-base of the 2,000 clubs in England after yesterday's special general meeting in Birmingham.

Brittle, who will become chairman of the new management board, will continue to be elected by the full membership after a move by the committee to have solitary rights to elect the chairman failed to get the necessary two-thirds majority.

The meeting voted 388-280 for the committee to elect their chairman - but the 58 per cent majority fell short of the necessary 66 per cent. However, the chairman of the management board's authority has been reduced after resolutions designed to increase his power were similarly defeated.

The four-hour meeting resulted in deadlock but Tony Hallett, the RFU secretary, will be more secure in his role as his job title has been changed to chief executive. A proposal that Hallett should compete against a range of candidates also failed to achieve the necessary majority.

With Brittle staying on, there is likely to be turmoil as leading officials are forced to work with a man they have "undermined", to use Brittle's own description of his position.

It is the fifth general meeting of the RFU in 21 months and was called to debate the Sir Pat Lowry Report into the future of English rugby union's administration. Lowry recommended Brittle's job should be a choice of all the clubs and Brittle said: "The chairman must be elected at an AGM and any other decision would disenfranchise the member clubs."