Rugby Union: Clubs upset by RFU plan to ignore vote

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Grassroots clubs reacted angrily yesterday over what they described as "the latest shabby move" by the game's hierarchy. They have been told that whatever they decide at next month's Rugby Football Union annual meeting, their Twickenham bosses may choose to ignore them.

The battle centres around the promotion of Tony Hallett from secretary to chief executive. Small clubs are demanding that the job be advertised and expect to carry the vote on a show of hands, but the RFU hierarchy have taken legal advice which says they need not take any notice of motions passed on 11 July.

"They're treating us like kids," said Russ Jenkins, chairman of Manchester RFC, who tabled the motion. "It makes you want to chuck in the game."

In a letter circulated to clubs, the RFU point out that Rule 12 gives the committee total power regardless of members' views.

"It is cynical and contemptuous," said Derek Mann, organiser of the Middlesex Sevens and the county's representative on the RFU committee. "How much more of this undemocratic behaviour must be see before the game revolts."

Hallett defended the decision and insisted his appointment was completely above board. "I find it all extremely disappointing that this internecine argument should cloud a great year for the game," he said.

The meeting will also see the final power play between Cliff Brittle, the executive committee chairman, and the man the RFU have put up against him, Bob Rogers, a Worthing solicitor.