Baron quits key post to make time for RFU

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The Independent Online

Francis Baron, the chief executive of the Rugby Football Union, has resigned from his subsidiary position as CEO of England Rugby Ltd, the joint body set up by the Premiership clubs and the union to manage the professional end of the English game. Baron said he had decided to devote his time to a series of major RFU projects, including the construction of the new south stand at Twickenham, which will complete the redevelopment of the stadium by increasing its capacity to 85,000.

Francis Baron, the chief executive of the Rugby Football Union, has resigned from his subsidiary position as CEO of England Rugby Ltd, the joint body set up by the Premiership clubs and the union to manage the professional end of the English game. Baron said he had decided to devote his time to a series of major RFU projects, including the construction of the new south stand at Twickenham, which will complete the redevelopment of the stadium by increasing its capacity to 85,000.

The board of ERL was scheduled to meet today to discuss, among other things, an RFU-nominated replacement for Baron. The position is among the most politically sensitive in English rugby, not least because of the continuing arguments over promotion to, and relegation from, the Premiership. Many rugby insiders expect the latest in a series of fierce battles over the issue to break out before the end of the season.

One of the most influential administrators in the world game, Baron performed a delicate balancing act during his time with ERL. The Premiership clubs gave him a hard time over his support for the one-up, one-down system currently in place at Premiership level, while the conservative forces on the RFU criticised him - and, indeed, plotted against him - because they considered him too accommodating towards the elite clubs. However, union sources were adamant last night that he would continue in his main role as chief executive of the union.

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