Hallett is RFU's new secretary

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Tony Hallett, who has overseen the redevelopment of Twickenham into the best-appointed sports ground in Britain, was yesterday appointed by the Rugby Football Union's general committee to succeed Dudley Wood when he retires as RFU secretary in July, writes Steve Bale.

Hallett, 50, a captain in the Royal Navy, has been one of the Navy's representatives on the RFU since 1979, chairman of the union's grounds sub-committee for three years and a member of the RFU executive since 1988. Chairman of the Richmond club for five years, he was a lock-forward for the Navy, Richmond, Blackheath and Oxfordshire.

His appointment marks a significant shift, firstly because - though the RFU used industrial head-hunters in its search for suitable candidates - Hallett is not a business high-flier in the Wood mould and also because, in clear contrast with Wood, he has clearly identified himself with the players in the interminable debate over amateurism.

Hallett will retire from the Navy ready for the climax of the debate at the International Board's special meeting in August. "These are exciting times for the ground and the game in England," he said yesterday. "But there are challenges on the international relations front and with amateurism."