Colin Grassie and Lesley Thomson QC are kept on Board

The two key figures in the SRU Board's handling of the Keith Russell affair have had their tenures extended

Colin Grassie will serve a further 18 months as Chairman of the SRU Board after his current term finishes. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson

COLIN GRASSIE and Lesley Thomson QC have had their positions on the Scottish Rugby Board extended, on the recommendation of the Board’s ‘Nominations Committee’, which was unanimously agreed to by the rest of the Board.

Grassie first joined the Scottish Rugby Board in July 2012 and has served as Chairman since January 2017, meaning he oversaw the build-up to and fall-out from the Keith Russell unfair dismissal affair which shook the game last summer. This included the award of a three-year contract extension to Chief Executive Mark Dodson during the period after the end of Russell’s employment tribunal hearing but before the highly critical ruling from that case was issued by Judge Joseph D’Inverno.

The former Deutsche Bank executive gave an impassioned speech at last year’s AGM when the ‘Russell-gate’ furore was at its peak, apologising for the mistakes which had been made and promising that steps would be taken to rectify the issues which were causing concern, however there is a general feeling amongst the wider rugby community that the whole unseemly mess has since been brushed under the carpet in order to protect the guilty.

Exclusive: Sheriff Bill Dunlop questions SRU review of governance structures

David Johnston column: A dark cloud continues to overshadow Murrayfield

Keith Russell: ‘The main thing Mark Dodson talked about for an hour was wanting to keep the Council quiet’

Grassie has been spotted at Scotland matches, and at Celtic Park for Glasgow Warriors’ PRO14 Grand Final appearance earlier this year, but has generally been an anonymous figure around Scottish rugby.

His current term as Chairman runs until December 2019 and has now been extended for a period of 18 months. This appointment precedes the findings of Sir Bill Gammell’s on-going review of the SRU’s governance and management structures.

Thomson, who was formerly Scotland’s Solicitor General, has been a non-executive director on the Board since October 2013. She headed the internal review into the Russell affair, and while it has been stated privately that she did a thorough job of identifying what had gone wrong and who was responsible, a lack of detail in the press release which was issued at the conclusion of her investigation, or subsequent evidence of meaningful change, has led to accusations of a ‘whitewash’.

Thomson has been invited to serve a further three years on the Board from October 1st.

A statement issued by the SRU earlier today [Friday] said: “With the rugby landscape going through a period of exceptional change and with external factors likely to create new opportunities the Board collectively wanted to maintain a level of operating consistency within the organisation.

“Both Grassie and Thomson bring a depth and relevance of experience to their respective roles, which the Board felt would be invaluable to Scottish Rugby at this time.”

10 questions which must be answered before SRU can move on from Keith Russell affair


About David Barnes 4028 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The 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.


  1. Pre-empts being impacted by the ongoing Governance Review making any recommendations on terms of office, where three years plus three, and only in exceptional circumstances another three would follow most codes of practice.
    Also out of sync with max of two plus three for the Council, which has been strictly adhered to of late.
    Convenient to say the least.
    My understanding was that they both sat on the Nominations Committee, so who was left on it assuming neither could deliberate on themselves, nor one would hope on each other?

  2. with the stellar job they both did during the Russell affair, its not bivouac why they have had their roles extended.

    Hopefully with the increased time they can have actual governance and control over the Executive.

    I won’t hold my breath.

  3. No surprise there really. Stellar contributions from both people in the Russell affair. Useful shields for Dodson and Howat

    Mea Culpa from Grassie at the AGM but no individuals called to account for this complete disaster for the Union.

    And who authorised the extension to Dodsons contract?

    Is it too much to ask the Board to hold the executive to account? Seems so

Comments are closed.