Brittle recruits Cotton to RFU board

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The Independent Online
Fran Cotton, the manager of the victorious Lions tour to South Africa, has been asked to apply his organisational skills to the English game after being appointed to the new management board of the Rugby Football Union.

Cotton, a long-time critic of the RFU, has been drafted in as part of the Cliff Brittle revolution to try and bring some unity to a Union blighted by internal strife in the professional era.

Along with Sir Michael Steer, the other new member on an expanded14-man board, he will be given full voting rights in an effort to ensure the professional clubs and the game's grass roots have an equal say on the future of rugby.

Brittle, the new chairman, said: "Fran is essential to the work we need to do over the next year. There is a lot to be done and we feel that him and Michael Steer are the people to do the job.

"We would be silly to leave Fran's experience on the sidelines. He has a broad range right throughout the game from the elite like the British Lions, to the grass roots sections."

However, Brittle did suffer the first setback of his week-long reign with the resignation of Colin Herridge, the chairman of the RFU's finance committee.

Herridge made a personal statement saying that he could could see no end to the continuing conflicts within the RFU, which he claimed would further damage the game's reputation over the coming year.

"It is with deep regret that I am announcing my immediate retirement from the RFU council," he said. "I have informed the president and wished him every success in his year in office."

Herridge's former job as English Rugby Partnership representative went to Graham Smith while Graham Cattermole steps up as chairman of finance. Despite that, Brittle was pleased with the extraordinary general meeting at the London Hilton.

He said: "We had a lengthy and extremely amicable meeting and the guys mentioned were voted for unanimously as the whole committee decided to go towards unity rather than more arguments.

"The meeting took one and a half hours, which is incredibly long for meetings like this. We needed to know where we are going in the future and that is why we had to get all of the elements together."

The first management board will convene on 31 July and a special team will be selected to discuss with coaches and club representatives what improvements need to be made to the game.

With Cotton's connections and experience, it is expected that he will be the one to head such a team on Brittle's behalf.