10 questions for Mark Dodson as he unveils a three-year strategy for Scottish Rugby

Chief Executive discusses the women's game, the pro teams, Super6, redeveloping Murrayfield and much more

Mark Dodson has unveiled a three-year strategy for Scottish Rugby. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Mark Dodson has unveiled a three-year strategy for Scottish Rugby. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

SCOTTISH RUGBY Chief Executive Mark Dodson discussed a wide range of issues as he unveiled a three-year strategy for the game in this country earlier today [Tuesday].

This is what he had to say:

1. Will the Scotland squad be able to fly out to Romania next Wednesday?

It is a waiting game. One of the issues is that Covid got into our camp and we have to do three or four more days surveillance. It is only when we find the outcomes of that surveillance can we take any judgments. I was talking to James Robson [SRU Chief Medical Officer] this morning when he gave me his daily briefing and I am afraid it is a wait and see situation.

“The results don’t come back daily. They come back in batches. As soon as we have more results we will come back to you.

“We have been extremely prudent and taken a conservative approach and put health first and that will serve us well in the end. We will be better placed to give out more information in three or four days time.

2. What’s this strategy – with the themes of ‘well-being’, ‘winning’ and ‘women’ – all about?

“During lockdown we have had time to reflect on exactly where we were and the issues that have come clear to us as we have gone through this last 15 months. One of the major things we have had to deal with, in society but also with our player group and other stakeholders too, is the whole issue of well-being, of mental and physical health.

“We understand how important that is, both to the physical health of the nation and to our own people. We have talked extensively to people in the business and we are looking at ways in which we can support them through hybrid working and ways we can help them re-enter the workplace.

“It’s got a whole different slant and emphasis on what we were already doing with our Rugby for Life programme. So, the ‘well-being’ element is a reflection of what has gone on in the last 15 months, and as we come out of this post-Covid business what our priorities are going to be.

“We want to have ‘winning’ teams on the pitch and when you look at the challenges we are facing with the United Rugby Championship and how that is going to alter the landscape of our league, it’s important that we address that head-on. We want to stay at the top table in Europe and in the new championship.

“The growth of the ‘women’s’ game is there for everyone to see. I think we are some way behind some teams in the world and we have to redouble our effort. One of the things we are going to do is put out an overarching women’s strategy sometime in the autumn that takes us from four and five-year-olds at mini rugby through to the international stage. There are quite a few of those pathways and pieces of the jigsaw that we do not have in place, for instance a dedicated school program and regional training centres.

“It’s basically kicking at an open door. There are so many different agencies and stakeholders and sponsors who expect us to invest heavily in the women’s game.

“When we started the Return to Rugby fund, we had 110 applications and 51% of them were specifically tied to women’s rugby. We’re kicking at an open door here. We didn’t specify in the fund what people should ask for money for; this is what they’ve realised they have to do, they have to change their clubs, make them more welcoming and sustainable … community hubs. The quickest way to do that is attract women and girls to a facility they feel comfortable.”

3. Has the Scotland Women’s team hit a glass ceiling? Does there need to be more professionalisation of the women’s game in Scotland?

“There is almost a three-tier situation. Some teams are at the very top, like France, England and New Zealand, then there is a second and third tier, and we are at the bottom of the second-tier.

“What we need is better quality of competition and more coaching across the country. It’s not just one single issue, there are several component we need to address, and we’re not just going to address one at a time.  If it means a pro team then that is definitely part of a long-term plan.

“First we would have to find a place for a professional women’s team to play. A large number of women players play in the English league. What we are looking at with other unions is ways that we can perhaps supplement that. We will have to think about how we would position ourselves and whether we have enough players to do that. I think it’s one of the key components we are going to have over the coming years.”


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4. Sounds like you plan to invest big in Edinburgh and Glasgow?

“We have always had to concentrate on squad depth because of the calls in international periods. We used to lose 20 or 25 players at that point and that put an enormous strain on our pro squads. They are United Rugby Championship and calendar this year does away with that, and so hopefully what we’re trying to do now is improve squad quality and also bring through the pipeline of young players quicker. I think we are going for quality rather than depth.

“One [way to do that] is having an improved Super6 or Super8 tournament which gives a higher quality of rugby on a regular basis for those players. Secondly, we’ve got to blood players younger as we’ve done this year. If you look at players like Rufus McLean, Ben Muncaster, Ollie Smith and Ross Thompson, you can see that our academies are preparing players better for that process than we have done before. Further investment into our academies as part of the ‘winning team’ strategy is going to be well resourced.

“It’s always a balancing act. We have pro coaches who want to win, and we want to win. We also have to make sure that our supporters are satisfied. We can all say that this season has not been glorious for our pro clubs, we accept that, but it’s also not a season when you can judge our coaches and teams too harshly. It has been one of the most challenging seasons anyone could possibly imagine.

“Looking ahead to next season, without the international overlaps, and with perhaps more resource for spending on quality players, we will have to be more judgemental about performances. That’s quite difficult because we are going into a brand-new competition which we don’t really know the strength of. This is the equivalent of bringing four Leinsters into the competition so it’s going to be hugely more competitive.

“I also believe that other teams, the Irish and Welsh and Italians, will also up their games. Jim Mallinder has left the coaches in no doubt about what expectations will be next season.”

5. The pro teams make big losses, can you ever start to redress that?

“The United Rugby Championship is not just another version of PRO14 or PRO16. This is going to be a watershed moment for the tournament, and it will help us close that gap [between costs and income for the pro teams]. We should be able to exploit the South African market in a much bigger way than we did before.

“We’ve seen an incredible demand for season tickets at Edinburrh. We’ve just put them on sale and there is record demand for season tickets for the new competition already. So, we find ourselves in a position where all the work that has been done with the South Africa project over the last couple of years is coming to fruition in this new URC.

“Pro rugby is expensive. We make a loss on our pro teams. We hope very much that this will close the loss and make sure it is more affordable for the Union.

“More importantly, we believe that you have to see that loss, as we do, as an investment in the overall business.”

6. Do you still plan to expand Super6 to Super8 and even Super10, despite the motion which has been tabled at August’s AGM calling for the competition to be scrapped?

“We’ve got to go to eight first. 10 is an ambition we would like to have down the line. But eight is certainly do-able. It will help us address the blank spots in our Super6 coverage. We know we’d like Caledonia and Midlands to have a side, we’d like Glasgow to have a side, and we also have potentially London Scottish wanting to play in a widened competition, which will also give us Scottish Qualified players who can come from out-with the Scottish catchment area.

“So, we’re not being in any way prescriptive in where things should go and what we should do. I think what we should do is have an application process – a shorter one this time – which will look at how strong the bids are, and we can alight on this hopefully in season 2022-23 and start to address a Super8 as soon as possible.

“The ecosystem has got to expand. We’re looking at Super8, probably Super10, even Super12 as it gets stronger and stronger. It depends on depth of talent and economics. Once you have a broadcaster in place you’ll find there’s a natural acceleration of how that competition is perceived by the public.

“There’s nothing to stop clubs from applying, Currie and Hawick did apply. We didn’t want anyone being disenfranchised by the first round and it was an independent process with sportscotland being involved. From where we sit, we believe there should be room for everyone who wants to and can play at that level over a period of time.

“Maybe Super6 will be the model with more than one league, with a second division. I don’t know. It’s not meant to disenfranchise, it’s meant to show the standards that’s required to be a performance path.

“We’d start a franchise if we felt it was the right thing to do. Our preference was clubs and consortiums working together to bring rugby to those parts of geography. But if we didn’t get a bid from Aberdeen, Dundee or Glasgow and we thought it was important to have one, that’s something we would consider.

“We’ve already learned lessons and got tons of feedback. And the resistance to Super6 is not universal, a lot of clubs are quite happy this is taking place. There’s a small number of clubs that feel deeply about it, that’s understandable and it’s fine. But there’s got to be a moment in time where we move on from this debate, and we have a concentrated effort to get behind Super6 or Super8 because it is going to be the performance pathway.

“I know there is emotion out there, and I want to make it clear that we as a Union, and myself as CEO, have absolutely no issue with an inter-district championship. We think it would be a good thing for players to be recognised outside of their club and potentially move up to play for their region, but we believe that it should be from the Premiership and below. An inter-district is by no means a performance programme and all of our performance people agree with that and have agreed on that for some time. So, this is why we shouldn’t fudge the line between the inter-district championship and Super6 or Super8.

“One of the problems we’ve got is, if we’d had three iterations of Super6 and cross-border championships then we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all. We wouldn’t have this motion. We’d have proved the case.

“We’re extremely confident about where this competition will go, we’ve got evidence to support our belief that there is real interest in developing this league. For example, Premier Sports’ FreeSport channel is looking at showing live games every Sunday with high production values and commentary. We’re also talking to BBC about Friday night games. So, we’re finding that broadcasters are interested in this competition in a way that they were never interested in the Premiership.

“We have to strike while the iron is hot and make sure we bolster the level that sits below the pro teams, because we can all agree that it is one of the weakest in the Celtic nations and we have to make sure that we have a strong Super6 or Super8 that allows the players to come through.”

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7. There isn’t much in terms of targets, benchmarking and costings in this strategy?

“We’re not going to put quantitative or numeric targets in because we’re coming into a post-Covid world and a new championship we don’t know the strength of yet, we’re also making sure that we are looking at the business as a whole.

“Our stakeholders are asking for us to support, help and aid them to come through and restart rugby, from a winning perspective we’re looking at starting a brand new competition with an emphasis on squad quality rather than squad depth, so we’re not going to give ourselves those numerical and quantitative targets that you either meet or don’t meet. Our issue is going to be around driving forward a brand new plan which sees us as a different style of business coming out of Covid, and we’re looking at the real problems that we know our stakeholders and people are facing.”

8. How significantly has Covid set the business back?

“It’s been one of the biggest frustrations is that we’ve had an influx of revenue from the sale of PRO14, and coming in from the Six Nations sale, so we would have been in an incredibly strong position. We’d have been able to do an awful lot of things we’ve always wanted to do quicker, things like the women’s game, like better facilities for our leading clubs across the piece, regional training environments, a match officials strategy, and a real focus on volunteers. We would have been in a fantatsic position, but we had to stop everything for 15 months and concentrate on our national and pro teams, because that’s where our money’s made. It was fortunate that the hiatus stopped the domestic game because I’m not sure how we’d have been able to service the domestic programme as well as the pro and international programme.

“We’re two and a half years behind where we want to be, ideally. We have to do a lot of things quicker to play catch-up. We need our overall turnover to be back where it was as quick as we possibly can and go beyond that number, and we need to restart rugby safely and sustainably.”

 

9. The Lions match at Murrayfield on Saturday seemed to be a bit of a shambles with the bars running out of beer before half-time?

“As far as we are concerned, this was our first Covid protocolled event at BTM and there were some issues around consumption of alcohol, we know that, but we took a decision based on health. We had an unprecedented demand for alcohol consumption and the estate had been differently configured for this game. Effectively, we had the opportunity to go back and restock the bars which would have created more problems for traffic round the estate and we decided not to compromise the social distancing protocols we had in place so we decided not to put alcohol for sale after half-time. We took a conscious decision and our focus was on health rather than hospitality.

“I spoke to Ben Calveley [Managing Director of the Lions] this morning. He said the feedback they had from fans, sponsors and broadcasters was incredibly good and they had no issue at all with what happened on Saturday. They were very pleased with the event.”

10. Is Murrayfield still fit for purpose as a top level sports venue?

“Ever since I arrived here [in 2011] we’ve had plans to upgrade Murrayfield when we’ve had the money. With a stadium of this size a few million pounds is like a flea bite, it doesn’t go that far. What we’ve had to do is use our money smartly and upgrade parts of the stadium which we could afford. We all know the infrastructure of the stadium has to be worked on. We haven’t touched any of the money from the Six Nations-CVC deal, haven’t worked on the strategy because we were leaving that money aside for generational or legacy projects. That could be Murrayfield.

“I was talking last week to the government about the redevelopment of the stadium and we should be looking with the government to upgrade the infrastructure as extensively as we can over the next five years. But we’ll have to have partners in that, we’ll have to do it in conjunction with government because it’s such a colossal capital item. The stadium was [redone] in 1994, our competitors have venues much younger than that, what we need to do is bring that up to speed. We now could be in position to contribute towards something that could be done.

“The cost of refurbishing a stadium and the costs of rebuilding and buying land are unbelievably different. You’re much better refurbishing a stadium if you can. We’ve got a prime piece of iconic, historic real estate – everyone knows where we are. Unless someone offers to build us a brand new stadium on the M8 … please put me in touch with them.”


Opinion: ‘Scotland needs a joined-up domestic rugby strategy’

About David Barnes 2616 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

37 Comments

  1. Forget the ten questions there is only one question worth asking him:

    Mr Dodson aren’t you ashamed of your performance as Chief Executive and the salary you draw?

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  2. not for a second do i believe that there is no agenda as to whom the self styled supremo wants to ensure are included in his pet s8,10,12 farce.
    He will get whatever he wants, nobody stands up to him.
    Its all about the pro game at murrayfield, the wellbeing of clubs is an inconvenience to him, whilst across the land players have left in droves over the pandemic nobody up there cares.
    Nero fiddles, rome in ashes.

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  3. Are we going to see Hampden and Murrayfield sold for housing and a new multi sports stadium in the middle?

  4. Excellent news, Dodson will lead us to a brighter future, i applaud the 3 Ws, Wellbeing, Winning, Woman.

    Overall brilliant news.

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    • Rather exclusive in a “sport for all”, but which particular “Woman” would that be, CN…..?

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    • Dodson will certainly lead himself to a brighter future but I doubt he will lead Scottish rugby there.

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  5. Others have mentioned lack of substance and measurement – quite rightly. More specifically, how exactly do you grow the game to make it more popular and hence more sustainable? Grass roots presents a host of issues, but even at elite level there are serious shortcomings. The Irish by and large hang on to their big name players. They also attract far bigger crowds to their grounds, which partly enables them to do this. They have in addition managed to ensure that most of the United Rugby matches involving their teams are aired on public television, which exposes their game to larger future audiences. Ditto to a lesser degree the Welsh. So where in the SRU strategy is all of this? And if the professional squads are going to be smaller, does that mean that our committee men will make more effort to keep our ‘megastars’ at home, rather than spend additional money on less talented imports to plug the gaps? I often wonder how much more competitive a Glasgow side would be with the likes of Hogg, Russell, Huw Jones, Hastings and Gray Junior still in it. Especially when combined with such emerging talents as Dobie, Darge, McLean and Thompson. Unless Scotland stops being a feeder nation for the French and English fat cats, then we have no strategy at all.

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    • TV rights are sold by he league, not the SRU. Irish and Welsh TV stations are occasionally willing to spend some money on this comp, Scottish ones were not.

      Irish (and to some extent welsh) teams retain star players by having a no play in Ireland, no play for Ireland policy. Having 4 pro teams makes that feasible. We had a short flirtation with that, Matt Williams anyone?
      Irish also as you say pay more. Legacy of less infighting at the genesis of Pro rugby (of the sort some still promote), and not having been burdened with annual costs of a new stadium to pay back- Govt built theirs. We have only cleared that debt in the last season or two.
      Slightly smaller squads will help free some money up, but it will not compete, with the French especially. It will be lower paid players who will be cut, and of course calls to defund the teams would make hem more likely to lose their best guys, be less competitive, Scotland suffer and crowds fall, income falls.
      Invest in the teams and the opposite happens, as it did after G McKie was sacked as CEO (who cut finding and results plummetted, Murrayfield did not sell out bar Eng and Wales games most tickets being sold to away fans). We should learn from mistakes, not repeat them

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      • I live and coach in Ireland. Some of what you are saying here is not correct.

        All Pro14 games in Ireland are not on national TV. TG4 has matches on terrestrial. The rest are accessible via the same routes as the UK…i.e. you have to pay for them.

        The Not play in Ireland not play for Ireland has not existed for some time. See Johnny Sexton as an example when he was in France (twice). There is an anomaly with Simon Zebo on that but is has nothing to do with him playing in France.

        The Irish clubs do not pay significantly more. Some players are on big salaries. But in the main this is not the case.

        The Aviva stadium was not funded by the government. They offered to share the cost with the FAI and the IRFU. Roughly, if memory serves me, it was c€400 million with the government taking €190 million of the cost and the other two absorbing the rest. It was on the basis that the stadium could be used for other sports or events.

        The reasons for Irish rugby teams being so successful is because each province has community engagement officers to recruit from areas that might not have a chance to play rugby. That is across all denominational and non-denominational schools, local communities, and they promote the game as accessible, non-elite, and start with touch rugby as a basis for the platform.

        They also have a very healthy set of leagues across the country that is very competitive.

        They then also have the Gaelic Athletic Association as competition. But in reality that works in the IRFU’s favour as they see a lot of cross over and the skills are very transferrable. Plus the GAA has a huge female following that sees more coming over to rugby too, which in turn gives them more funding from world rugby from a diversity pot.

        The grass roots of the game is where it starts in Ireland. My club that I coach for has a membership of 800 playing and non-playing members, yet we have produced in the last 10 years five current professional players who play in the pro14, and two have appeared at full international too. We also have ex-professionals that have come back to the club to play in the 1sts once their career is over, and have contributed to the coaching.

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      • Jonny Sexton was the last (and maybe only) exception to play in Ireland to play for Ireland. Its why just a season or so back Beirne had to go back.

        Its an unwritten rule but firmly applied, I suggest you look up the IRFU’s performance director’s press briefing from last month, he one where it goes

        “But even if frontline players were to depart between now and the 2023 World Cup, Nucifora said maintaining the “unwritten rule” in Ireland picking home-based players had to remain in place for, as he put it, the health of the provinces.

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      • Two things here:

        1. Tadgh did not come back because of that. He first went to Scarlets because Leinster did not offer him a senior contract. He was offered a rather large sum of money by Munster to come back because of his emergence at Scarlets. He had just won the grand final against Munster. It was not to play for Ireland. That’s an assumption you’ve made. It just went coincidentally with him returning to Munster and his subsequent performances. He’s from Kildare, and had an offer from Leinster on the table too. He turned them down to go to Munster.

        2. Any Irish player who is a “marquee” player will never not play for Ireland if they are playing abroad. Unless you are Simon Zebo. The sponsors and the fans are far too influential these days for that to be the case. The provinces are not under threat because of that. Most players, who are Irish, stay because they are treated like gods, have a very easy time of it from the press, and are protected from exposure to sustained game time if they are carrying an injury.

    • I mean if Russell and Hastings stay at Glasgow, Rosa Thompson would probably not have played for Glasgow – certainly wouldn’t when the URC limits test and domestic overlaps.

      Scotland does not want a bottleneck for emerging players, it is good if senior players move on providing we can retain a strong core at the pro teams. Glasgow haven’t necessarily got the balance right in the past couple of years but we do need people to move on.

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      • to a point FF I agree. The SRU do not want a bottleneck. But what is good for Scotland, Scottish Rugby is successful teams at all levels, clubs all over have to manage development, the future and potential bottlenecks. As long as the SRU decide, the pro teams are not in control of their own destiny. Question is whether we have the balance right.

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  6. The feedback about the Lions game was nonsense. While I understand and agree with the step not to serve alcohol after half time, the truth is that they had started to run out of beer BEFORE the game even kicked off, and that was a main sponsors product!! Remember, not everyone likes T! Also, as far as social distancing was concerned, NOBODY was paying a blind bit of notice the the 2m rule in the (massive and slow) queues at the bars and food stands and it wasn’t enforced by stewards. Most people were masked up, but then a sizeable number weren’t and nobody was enforcing that either. The only evidence I saw of any distancing measures being enforced was inside the stadium itself where I saw a few stewards moving people who had sat closer to people they were with back to their allocated seats. So they did the job inside, but it was a shambles outside. And that was a huge let down for people like me who had waited for so long to get to something like this.

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  7. This may be a stupid question however..

    If super 10 is the target or even 12 and given the relatively small sums involved, compared to the pro team losses etc, why not just invest in the current top 10 from s6 and premiership clubs as they stand and get on with it. Relegation for 1 club a year is not necessarily a disaster for league or club involved and any serious financial difficulties can be dealt with by a parachute payment. It may provide vital breathing space to allow the relegated club to regroup and in reality will rarely trouble the majority.

    On the positive side the prospect of promotion offers hope for the ambitious and retains the sporting integrity of the leagues and sense of fairness etc.

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  8. Let us look at process

    When last I checked the SRU was a member organisation.

    After years of waiting for a strategy the members got six days notice to attend a webinar on Monday, the first day of the school holiday and as it happens an hour after the deadline of amendments to motions for the AGM in six weeks time, and in advance of any report at the AGM from SCOG.

    The reps of the members on Council apparently “wholly endorse” the strategy”, yet as far as I am aware, and there are no notes to the contrary, they had only approved some high level objectives.

    Some (it seems the national reps) were not even invited to the Webinars.

    But no problem the members tickets said “there will be an opportunity to ask questions”

    Indeed there was but:
    In private not shared with others
    No means of knowing who else was at the webinar
    Any difficult ones were “collated” that is”neutered so we can tee up Mark on his prepared answers”
    Example and I paraphrase:

    “We have had lots of questions on S6, what is your view Mark?….

    Loads of question went unanswered yet my webinar ended 15 mins early.

    Openness and Transparency?

    Now in advance of the AGM this in the Times today on one of the motions on S6

    “The union’s executive is expected to counter that with an amendment that allows for the revival of a four-district tournament, but not at the expense of Super 6. In fact, Dodson is doubling down on his brainchild, suggesting that it could be expanded in seasons ahead. “I think we’d like to get to Super 8 as soon as we possibly can,” he said.”

    So we are already pressing on before the Clubs have a chance to vote.

    Openness and transparency?
    Democracy in a member organisation?

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    • Keith- you really do need to stop this anti Super6 ranting you persist on posting every time there is a story even mildly associated with it. You have no idea what performance rugby looks like (unless Haddington played in the Premiership and I missed it) so why on earth do you claim to have any insight? Going by the bio on his recent blog the guy from GHA (?) has also never played or coached or been involved in anything close to performance rugby. Can you please stop posting your rants and actually try to write something constructive. It would be a far more useful read.

      Regards,

      David
      Cally Region

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      • Wise words David.

        We should all stop commenting on things we have no experience of and keep things constructive. Would certainly remove comment from almost every website on the internet!

        Given you just trashed Keith’s comment and provided zero constructivity, you may want to take up your own advice?

        Alternatively, you could provide what your take on S6 and performance rugby is? What your background is that gives you this insight? Perhaps even share your real/full name like other contributors do?

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      • David

        In my post I was trying to play the ball not the man.

        The ball here is democracy.

        Monday night and the output from Tuesday’s Press conference was an affront to democracy.

        Super 6 is a part of this affront.
        It was never voted on. There were lots of risks and impacts raised by member clubs and ignored. Many have materialised.

        Now six weeks before a properly lodged motion on the subject is to be debated and voted on at the AGM, our CEO chooses to ignore/prejudge the outcome of a democratic vote, and press on regardless.

        Would welcome your views on how to play this ball.

        Yours in the interests of democracy, openness and transparency in our great game

        Keith Wallace
        PS I have no wish to defend my experience and knowledge of the game, that is for others to judge (preferably openly) but, as President, I will defend my Club Haddington. I am the latest in a long line of batten holders in our 110 year history, who have always sought democracy and meritocracy, living with the highs and lows that brings, an approach I am proud to uphold.

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      • I wonder if this ‘you don’t understand performance rugby’ attitude is part of the problem. I stayed in NZ for a wee while and I don’t remember that argument being used much over there. Rugby was about pride, tradition, community, doing the basics well and having fun – it didn’t seem to matter much whether that was the ABs or schoolboy 1st XV, the same style of play and ethos permeates the whole system.

        Is there a reason S6 couldn’t become more regionalised and still form part of the development pathway? E.g. keep Stirling, Ayrshire Bulls and Southern Knights, add a Glasgow and a northern franchise, then maybe have 2 Edinburgh franchises (North & South). A core squad of semi-pros could be contracted, then augmented with a wider group of amateur players from various clubs across each region, as well as fringe Glasgow/ Edinburgh pros. As I’ve said before on these threads, I think (a) being a closed shop, and (b) some clubs playing under their traditional club identities while others have branded as new quasi-regional teams just makes this comp a really hard-sell for neutral fans. (Or at least it does for me personally).

        (Also David, also Cally Region)

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  9. Might as well have added “Woke” to his other 3 W’s. Looks more concerned to tick the boxes of government demands in exchange for continued funding than to inspire young people to play and compete with their mates.

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  10. What an absolute load of lip flapping from Dodson. Zero substance, and to be frank about as a vague as he usually is. All picture and no sound.

    Completely side-stepped the inter-district part and tried to focus on the “Super 8”, which will never happen as no teams can afford it. Never mind a “Super 10”.

    As for the women’s game. I won’t hold my breath. They cant even get out into the schools as it is, and lets not forget this lad has been part of the set up for over 10 years. His appreciation of rugby as a sport is naïve at best. He always passes the buck on any major issue, and refuses to acknowledge that HE is the main problem.

    As far as Murrayfield goes, the fact that they have sat back for 10 years and left the stadium to rot, when there were plenty of opportunities to create a public partnership with leveraged community benefits to get the improvements needed.

    We are in no better position than when he arrived. The man is a carpetbagger.

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  11. “better facilities for our leading clubs across the piece, regional training environments”

    This decision to create “Super” clubs who become the focus for SRU investment and attention will kill our game if allowed to continue in this way. As for the “performance” people not believing that a representative competition can fulfill their needs, I wonder if this is what they really think? Are they sure that New Zealand and South Africa have got their player development pathways wrong? Have they considered the impact that creating Super Clubs versus representative teams has on the grassroots game? Why were those of us who actually commit our time and effort to our club game and understand and have to deal with the impact of what they are doing, never even consulted?

    Despite what Mark Dodson believes, the SRU is a democracy not a dictatorship and the clubs will have the opportunity to express a view on this in August.

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  12. A “strategy” without metrics and targets is a wish list. I’m sure it makes it much easier to argue for say bonus purposes, but without tangible goals it’s meaningless. Perhaps Mr Dodson learned from his “win the World Cup “ strategy from a few years ago?

    I do wonder what the Board have signed up to here.

    Fascinating insight into how the business operates:

    * more money into pro rugby, apologies investment. So £12m approx needs more resource so we can compete. The greedy monster that is pro rugby is going to eat SRU limited alive.
    * we are all “stakeholders” now. No actually the clubs own the subsidiary that is SRU Limited
    * Super 6 – when Ayr are already trying to recruit players from abroad in the basis that they can’t get the right calibre of player, there might be a slight flaw in expansion
    * Stirling County are in Midlands region. Dundee applied to join Super 6. I listened to their presentation. Like this strategy, big on primary colours and absent any detail. Oh and short by £100k. Rather concerning that the CEO isn’t on top of the facts of his own project.

    Murrayfield didn’t feature in the “strategy” presentations and packs I’ve seen. After £20m of government funding, the idea that they will put money into the expansion of a sports stadium is fanciful. But good luck with the chats about that. Who could object to that as there’s not much else to fix or make better in Scottish society.

    It’s also plain in previous accounts that the stadium has been starved of investment. Specifically to make the accounts look better. So any degradation of the facility is down to the Board and Exec decisions.

    The focus on Women’s rugby is to be applauded. One question – how much investment will be needed to enable changing facilities and showers to be used by men’s and women’s teams? I’ve been to many clubhouses around the country and very few are capable of hosting both sexes.

    Always tricky when the “strategy” provides more questions than answers.

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  13. “…a brand new stadium on the M8..”
    Hope that is well down his wish list!
    Murrayfield is fine where it is.

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    • think that was his conclusion too.

      Murrayfield is key to Scottish Rugby finances, absolutely key. And it needs upgrading, badly. If we want to keep it as the key revenue generator.

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      • It must be a mystery to the CEO on why the stadium has been so badly neglected.

        Though I suppose if you are burning through £12m a year on funding pro rugby and promising more money then you are faced with some very stark choices.

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      • yes Dom, we should shut down the professional teams. That would help fill grounds and increase income. Genius

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      • Where did I say that S9?

        You putting words in my mouth again.

        Dodson has been at Scottish Rugby for 10 years. Any issue with the degradation of the stadium is on him.

        He chose (with the Board) to spend the money on pro rugby. To the detriment of the fabric of Murrayfield.

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      • Dodson, as others have had to do, chose to pay down the stadium debt AND fund pro teams. And return a small surplus.
        so your “solution” if not to close he pro teams is? And explain how it makes them more competitive plus help keep players in Scotlad

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      • Yes we should just shut down the pro teams, disband all the development structures and reduce the staffing. Indeed why don’t we just go back to being a completely amateur sport, that way we. And spend the money in the right places. This is badly placed satire which no doubt people like you can quote back as something I believe in.

        Honestly, your method of twisting things people say is getting rather tedious.

        I point out that the CEOs lament about the lack of investment in the stadium is down to him and the Board. You can obfuscate all you like. Lack of stadium investment can be tracked in the SRU accounts. All to make the accounts look better and give the impression of debt free when we were never anything of the sort.

        To expand on your point – pay down stadium debt and pay for pro rugby while not spending enough on the upkeep of the stadium. Almost like there are choices to be made when there is a finite budget.

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      • so no answer Dom. Not a surprise. Just the usual moaning and dodging when called out

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  14. So un-businesslike to present such a “strategy” lacking in targets, precision, detailed timescales, etc.

    In reality, just a dressed-up wish-list aimed at appealing to the gullible and the great unwashed!

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  15. Yeah – am happy with most of those answers. I just hope that if we do re-build Murrayfield we go balls out and do something like the Mercedes dome in Atlanta, or even the new cowboys stadium. Would need to up the Super 8 broadcasting income though!

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  16. Some very straight bat answers from Mr Dodson. Time will tell whether his ambitions come to fruition but things like more investment in women’s rugby, a greater emphasis on health and wellbeing are very encouraging and are to be applauded.

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