England Boss John Steele forced out of RFU

Rugby Football Union chief executive John Steele has left his post with the body that runs English Rugby.

Steele was appointed a year to the day ago on June the 9th 2010.

Steele came under heavy fire last month over the chaotic series of events which
ended with England’s 2003 World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward ruling
himself out of a return to the Test set-up.

“The Rugby Football Union board of directors can confirm that John Steele
has left the Union with immediate effect, ” an RFU statement said.

“At the current time there is nothing more we can add while discussions
are ongoing and we will update further as we are able. “

Steele’s departure, which followed an emergency RFU board meeting on Thursday,
leaves English rugby rudderless just three months ahead of the World Cup in
New Zealand.

Woodward, who is currently employed by the British Olympic Association ahead
of the 2012 London games, had been widely tipped to take-up the newly created
role of RFU performance director.

RFU chiefs were furious when Steele changed the job description for the post,
stripping the role of any responsibility for England’s senior Test team.

That move was seen as a deliberate snub to Woodward, making the position less
attractive to the World Cup-winner and other high-profile candidates.

Yet that was followed by another U-turn, where the initial terms of the job
were re-instated, possibly clearing the way for Woodward to return to the organisation
he resigned from amid acrimony in 2004.

Woodward later confirmed he had held informal talks with the RFU concerning
the vacancy, but in a blow to his admirers within the RFU, issued a statement
ruling himself out of the running.

“In order to prevent any further speculation and in the interests of both
the BOA and RFU I would like to formally confirm that I will not be attending
any interviews for this position, ” Woodward said.

“I am totally committed to my role as Director of Sport at the British
Olympic Association and Deputy Chef de Mission for Team GB in London 2012. “

Yet many Woodward supporters believe the former England coach could yet return,
if Steele was gone.

Fran Cotton, who played alongside Woodward in England’s 1980 Grand Slam side,
said the only way to get his former team-mate back on board was for Steele to
be ousted.

“This is where the (RFU) chairman and non-executive directors have got
to step in, ” he told the BBC.

“The only way it will be solved is by John Steele’s removal, he has shown
he is not up to the job, ” added Cotton, himself a former RFU vice-chairman.

“If it’s a choice between John Steele as chief executive or Clive Woodward
as performance director, it’s a no-brainer. “

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