Rugby Union: Cotton's ready to make a stand

Click to follow
FRAN COTTON will this morning announce that he is to stand in the election for chairman of the Rugby Football Union's management board at the annual meeting in the summer.

Cotton, the former Lions and England prop forward, has been a fierce critic of the RFU and the way it has handled the game's affairs domestically and internationally since rugby entered the professional age four years ago.

Despite the recent settlement when the English clubs agreed to participate in the European competitions next season, Cotton is still not happy with the state of the union.

"No one could be more delighted to see us back in Europe than myself," said Cotton yesterday. "But I still feel more has to be done for the game in this country."

His decision to stand for the chairmanship will pit him against the present chairman, Brian Baister, and Cotton explained his reasons for the move. "Over the last few months a large number of clubs and individuals have asked me to do this," he said. "I have felt dismay at what has been happening."

Cotton, who has been proposed by Coventry and numbers his former 1980 England Grand Slam team-mate Bill Beaumont among his four seconders, feels, among other things, that the RFU did not give the game's world governing body - the International Board - enough support during the last four years of turmoil.

Something which particularly sticks in Cotton's craw is the Five Nations fiasco of a couple of months ago when England were expelled and then reinstated in the space of 24 hours. "That was a ridiculous situation," said Cotton, "that we were challenging an accord that we had signed. The expulsion and subsequent reinstatement 16 hours later brought the game of rugby in this country into disrepute."

Cotton denied that his decision to stand in July's meeting would cause yet more internal strife at Twickenham. "What is needed," he said, "is a strong management board. At the moment the RFU is not providing any leadership and the game is lurching from crisis to crisis.

"It is unacceptable that the people who have caused all the problems are not brought to account. It would be unthinkable in any other organisation. This is something that has to be resolved once and for all.

"The RFU should be regarded as a blue chip organisation in everything it does. I feel England should once more play a leading role in world rugby. Right now we are marginalised on the IB, with the other 84 countries totally against us."