RFU scrap Rob Andrew role

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The Independent Online

Martin Johnson will have a new boss after the Rugby Football Union's chief executive John Steele confirmed plans to redefine Rob Andrew's current role and appoint a new performance director.

Steele has spent the last four months conducting a comprehensive review of the organisation and his plans to restructure the RFU's executive management were yesterday approved by the board.

Andrew's current wide-ranging position as England's director of elite rugby, which he has held since August 2006, has been scrapped and the whole elite department revamped.

Steele has decided to create a single rugby department divided into the areas of performance, operations and development with the emphasis on "delivering rugby at all levels".

Each area will have its own director and those positions will be advertised from next week. It is understood Andrew has been invited to apply for the role of operations director.

Johnson, the England team manager, will report into the new performance director. The position, which is not expected to be filled until the summer, has been linked to Sir Clive Woodward.

England's 2003 World Cup-winning coach is currently the elite performance director at the British Olympic Association.

Woodward missed out on a return to the RFU four years ago when Andrew was appointed elite rugby director.

Steele has also created two new roles - chief commercial officer and chief financial officer - as he bids to ensure the RFU is in the best position to build towards hosting the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

"The next five years will be some of the most exciting in the RFU's history and I wanted to make sure we are in the right shape as an organisation to seize the opportunities in front of us," said Steele.

"These new executive roles are a huge opportunity to ensure that we have the brightest and the best people leading the business moving forward.

"I have spent the last few months gathering insight and views on how the RFU could better serve the game.

"What became clear is that while we had a sound commercial platform, we did not have enough focus on the quality of the rugby experience across the game.

"So the new structure puts rugby right at the centre of the business and seeks to create more rugby expertise to benefit all levels of the game."

Nick Eastwood, the current finance director, has been invited to apply for the new enhanced position.

The reorganisation has led to a number of executive redundancies, including community rugby director Andrew Scoular, tournament and competitions director Terry Burwell and elite teams media director Richard Prescott.

RFU chairman Martyn Thomas said: "The changes we are making signal a changing of the guard and the new refreshed leadership team will give the RFU new impetus and a clearer strategic direction not just at the elite end of the game but across the whole game.

"We will emerge from the next few months a stronger, more effective union and John is to be applauded for taking the tough decisions needed to get there and for delivering the changes in a way that is cost neutral to the business."