First moves from Brittle

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The Independent Online
Seven days after his victory at the battle of the Hilton, Cliff Brittle started to move his troops into significant positions in the game.

To no one's surprise, Fran Cotton, the forthright Lions manager and even more forthright Brittle advocate in the hostilities at the Rugby Football Union's annual meeting, was asked by the victorious chairman to join the management board set up to administer the game. Cotton and Sir Michael Steer are the new members of the 14-man board. 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."

The only victim of Brittle's new broom so far has been the chairman of the finance committee, Colin Herridge, who suffered a particularly torrid time at the Hilton meeting.

Herridge resigned with a parting shot, a statement in which he said he could see no end to the continuing conflicts within the RFU, which 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 replaces him as chairman of finance.

The moves came at a meeting on Friday, again at the London Hilton. "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," Brittle said.

"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 Thursday week when a special team will be selected to discuss with coaches and club representatives what improvements need to be made to the domestic 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.

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