Probyn calls for clear-out of RFU board after Thomas exit

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The Independent Online

The blood from Martyn Thomas's removal as acting chief executive of the Rugby Football Union is hardly dry on the Twickenham carpet (indeed, the former RFU chairman will not formally step down until 16 December) but already the cry is for more of the red stuff.

According to Jeff Probyn, the one-time England tighthead prop, heads need to keep rolling for the good of the running of the red rose game. Probyn, a former RFU committee man, believes Thomas was not the only member of the management board whose position should have become untenable after the highly critical Blackett report.

"It's a good thing Martyn has gone," Probyn said. "He should have had the honour to resign rather than being forced out. I expected a true rugby man to have seen the writing on the wall and fallen on his sword. The reality is that he has been a problem for the union for a number of years. The fact he's gone is a positive step, but it's only one positive step.

"The majority of the board, who caused such a mess and created the situation that led to Thomas eventually stepping down, are still involved," he added. "Some of those people should also fall on their swords. There's a danger of putting the blame for what happened on one man and forgetting that the Blackett report highlights the whole board for failing in their duties."

Thomas's future may have been decided, but uncertainty continues to cloud Martin Johnson's position as England manager following a disappointing World Cup. There have been suggestions that the former Leicester lock will be allowed to continue if he agrees to a clear out of his backroom staff. Johnson, whose contract runs out on 31 December, has yet to declare whether he wishes to remain.

"Martin should stay," Probyn said, "but if I was him I wouldn't be putting my hand up to say I'd stay while there are a number of reviews going on. He's in a difficult position."

The same can be said of Newcastle Falcons. Alan Tait's side prop up the Premiership table with five points, five points adrift of their nearest rivals, Worcester, who visit Kingston Park tonight. It already has the look of a "must win" contest for the Falcons.