Brittle victory threatens chaos for RFU

Rugby Union

STEVE BALE

A grassroots counter-revolution of the Rugby Football Union's member clubs yesterday saw the anti-establishment candidate for the RFU's executive chairmanship elected by a landslide at a shambolic and sensational special meeting in Birmingham which broke up with even the seemingly dead issue of amateurism still to be resolved.

It is by no means certain that another special meeting will not vote to turn English backs on the rest of the rugby world. The RFU would have no option but to secede from the International Board if the bulk of clubs - nearly all of whom will remain amateur anyway - vote as they appeared to feel at the International Convention Centre last night.

Remarkably, Cliff Brittle's trouncing of the RFU committee's nominee, the IB representative John Jeavons-Fellows, by 647 votes to 332 was only part of the humiliation. Another special general meeting must be convened within six weeks at which the very principle of abandoning amateurism in according with the IB's changed regulations will be specifically voted on.

This is an extraordinarily perilous path, not least because the England team who begin the Five Nations' Championship in France this Saturday have already been handsomely professionalised and all the leading clubs are now putting the new dispensation into place ready for next season.

The sense of this meeting, attended by more than 800 delegates also wielding a pile of proxy votes which took 70 minutes to cast, was patently in favour of retaining amateurism even though the same people had already voted acceptance of the changed IB regulations and various consequent amendments in RFU regulations. But most dramatic of all, if the next meeting voted to retain amateurism, the RFU would effectively have no alternative but the farcical one of IB withdrawal.

However, last night even Brittle, 54, a retired businessman who represents Staffordshire, on the RFU but lives in tax exile on the Isle of Man, anticipated that the "seamless" game - applying to all members of the union - enunciated in the recent RFU report was likely to win acceptance. It was the refusal of the meeting to start a debate on this report that precipitated the referral to another meeting.

Yesterday's votes, effectively of no confidence in the executive committee who had unanimously nominated Jeavons-Fellows, leaves Brittle to work with men who self-evidently have no confidence in him, though after the meeting he played the conciliator. "For me there will not any difficulty at all. I ask the executive to search their consciences and I sincerely hope we can unite and take the game forward," he said.

However, at least one prominent member of the executive said he was considering his position and the notion that wounds can be so easily healed had already been blown apart by remarks attributed to Jeavons-Fellows in Saturday night's Birmingham Sports Argus: "It's a treacherous decision to appeal to the Old Rubberduckians, HMS Pinafore and RAF Akrotiri at a time when the RFU should be setting an example of stability and unity."

For his part, Brittle gladly confessed to having strongly supported amateurism - but only until it was abandoned by the IB.

"Over the last few years I have been a strong advocate of retaining amateurism, and that I am not ashamed of," he said.

"But the International Board made a decision in August to go professional. One can question how that decision came about but the fact is they did do it and as far as I'm concerned personally I accept that decision." The rebellious grassroots may not be an amenable.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence