Colin Grassie to stand down as Chairman of Scottish Rugby Board at AGM

Board will not engage with Governance Task Force until after AGM, by which time Ian Barr will have taken over as President

Colin Grassie will stand down as Chairman of the Board of Scottish Rugby at August's AGM Image: ©Fotosport/David Gibson
Colin Grassie will stand down as Chairman of the Board of Scottish Rugby at August's AGM Image: ©Fotosport/David Gibson

COLIN GRASSSIE is to stand down from his role as Chairman and Independent Non-Executive Director on the Scottish Rugby Board at August’s AGM.

The former Deutsche Bank executive joined the Scottish Rugby Board in June 2012 and was appointed Chairman in 2017. His tenure was up in December 2019, however it was announced in July of that year that he had agreed to stay on for a further 18 months, which would have taken him up to just before the 2021 AGM. It was revealed at the same time that fellow Non-Executive Director Lesley Thomson QC had also been handed a third term of three years by the Board’s Nominations Committee.

“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,” said a statement issued by the SRU at that time.

“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.”


Governance ‘task force’ to carry on past AGM deadline

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

Opinion: ‘There is something rotten at the heart of Scottish Rugby’


Grassie’s tenure has been amongst the most tumultuous in Scottish Rugby’s history. He was in charge of the clean-up operation after the Union lost an unfair dismissal case brought by former Director of Domestic Rugby Keith Russell, and came in for some heavy criticism for the lack of detail published from the subsequent internal review on the matter conducted by Thomson.

More recently, the executive pay scandal, and his role in the management and governance review conducted by Sir Bill Gammell and Norman Murray, has caused significant unease amongst member clubs.

“I have been immensely proud to hold the position of Chairman over the past three years and I’d like to thank each and every Board member I have had the pleasure of working with for their support and guidance,” said Grassie, in a wide-ranging update issued on behalf of the Board at lunchtime today.

“I intend to give the essential work now underway during the Covid-19 crisis my complete focus and full attention until such time as we can bring our member clubs together for our next AGM.

“We are facing unprecedented challenges on a daily basis and I believe we have the right people in place to tackle this head-on.”

The update also explained that: “In line with normal procedures the Board, through its Nominations Committee, will be undertaking a search for his replacement.” Grassie is also stepping down as Chairman of the Nominations Committee and has recused himself from the selection process.

Scottish Rugby Taxi Board Game

On the separate but related issue of President Dee Bradbury‘s governance Task Force, the Board clarified that it will not be seeking to engage with this group until after August’s AGM, by which time current Vice-President Ian Barr will have taken over the top job.

“This is important work and at a time of significant disruption in the sporting world there is a  need to ensure that there is the opportunity for meaningful consultation with all our clubs and stakeholders,” said the update.

“There must and will be time, in due course, to look at how Scottish Rugby is structured and governed, but right now we must concentrate our collective energies on the pressing matters at hand.”

Which begs the question of why the Task Force has not been stood down altogether at this point?

The update also stated that Scottish Rugby is investigating ways to ensure that the AGM can go ahead as scheduled on 15th August should Covid-19 restrictions continue to be in force at that date, and will be writing to club secretaries shortly with further information and guidance in connection with AGM business and timescales.


Dr James Robson MBE warns against a rush to return to action

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article

Support our new, improved coverage this season 2019-20, with Super 6, National 1 and 2 leagues, fixtures and tables, and the small matter of our comprehensive coverage of Scotland at the RWC from Japan.

Invest in our gameyou can make a difference by keeping Scottish rugby at all levels in the news.

David Barnes
About David Barnes 1880 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

20 Comments

  1. A reflection on where we are having read through additional articles highlighted above, David Barnes 10 questions [Sept 2018] and David Johnston’s ‘Emperors’ article of October that year, and it would seem we are no further forward with answers and only One occupant of the Tumbril; at present.

    It is apparent that there seems to have been much store attached at Murrayfield to the double edged sword that is the Data Protection Act, introduced by Government with the intention no doubt to protect the innocent it conveniently also protects it would seem their opposites.

    There is another invidious ‘supposed’ legal document presented to staff that is the Non Disclosure Agreement. What on earth can be sensitive about running the SRU that requires an NDA to be signed either on entering or leaving their employ. I would go as far as to suggest that misuse of an NDA is actionable.
    An NDA at Ferrari Engineers in Maranello is relevent, at the SRU administration it is no less than a cloak to cover potential bombastic behaviour or misconduct of management, at any level.

    A question to pose is, if the injured parties are prepared to wave the DPA but the faulty Party use the same legislation effectively concealing involvement then there should be a mechanism whereby an appeal and independent assessment is made instructed by the Tribunal not the Employer.

    The administration at Murrayfield has morphed into a self-appointing monster and that monster seems to remain. It’s almost incomprehensible that one member of the politburo decides another Members salary and bonus, especially if that individual is the CEO. Asking the Company that have won the contract to do your books to make an assessment of whether NDA was relevant to individuals employed by the SRU is questionable, regardless of the fact that they are basing their Judgement on the information that Dodson and Co. give them and are hardly likely to ask forensic questions.

    Truthfully, you couldn’t make it up.

    13
  2. Who is actually on this absurdly named Nominations Club…I mean Committee anyway? Does the Council have oversight? Can the Clubs have any say?

  3. There must be division on the Scottish Rugby Union board. They failed to recognise that the clubs were not happy with the annual salaries the board received. And to defer the salaries is laughable instead they could afford to have there wages stopped. To make a hardship of £500000
    was poor. I don’t think the Scottish Rugby Union board realise how much money it takes a club to pay for strips and other articles of clothing.
    Plus hospitality and transport. My thanks to all the club committees through all of Scotland who do an excellent job. I don’t know if there are any others on the board of the Scottish Rugby Union will do like wise. We need a board that will be answerable to clubs. The board seem to forget the clubs are the Scottish Rugby Union.

    12
  4. With regard to the departure of Colin Grassie is he being held up as the only sacrificial Lamb? Will others follow?
    Mr. Grassie had a similar au revoir from Deutsche Bank as Dodson had with MEN Media, Grassie found himself basically ‘not wanted on voyage’ in a not dissimilar way as Dodson, both being given the freedom to roam when a new Broom arrived.
    Mr. Grassie included in his statement a thank you for the “support and guidance”. I have my own idea as to the nature of the guidance and from whence it came. Has the question ever been answered as to why Dodson had his tenure extended by Grassie prior to the Tribunal judgment?
    What could Grassie [and others surely] have been thinking about with the Russell affair in motion, surely during the proceedings an indication as to the way the unfair dismissal tribunal was going filtered through or were the cuddly friendly methods of the Dodson Model of ‘Man management’ still the default position with regard to the organisation and running of the SRU?
    Whilst reading the article I noticed some Headings one of which was ‘The 10 Questions that need to be answered’ and thought that I would read the article once more. Dodson and Howat were severely criticised by Judge D’Inverno in June 2018 and the questions raised in an article filed by David Barnes on 28th September of the same year.
    I am curious to ask Mr. Barnes [or anyone else with the knowledge for that matter] some 18 months later, were any of those questions posed responded to in a meaningful way rather than vacuous PR waffle either in person or in an SRU statement?
    I have a hope and I am sure it is one shared by many others that as in Grassie’s and Dodson’s previous positions when the new Broom arrives it sweeps and sweeps well.

    18
    • I forgot to mention another repeated article by David Johnston ‘They have been caught with their pants down but are now behaving like emperors’, another excellent read I would suggest just to remind everyone as to the goings on at Roseburn Street.

      15
      1
    • Oh yes George….others will follow (to continue with the ovine theme.) However, the clubs need to be careful for what they wish for.

      10
      1
  5. With regard to the departure of Colin Grassie is he being held up as the only sacrificial Lamb? Will others follow?
    Mr. Grassie had a similar au revoir from Deutsche Bank as Dodson had with MEN Media, Grassie found himself basically ‘not wanted on voyage’ in a not dissimilar way as Dodson, both being given the freedom to roam when a new Broom arrived.
    Mr. Grassie included in his statement a thank you for the “support and guidance”. I have my own idea as to the nature of the guidance and from whence it came. Has the question ever been answered as to why Dodson had his tenure extended by Grassie prior to the Tribunal judgment?
    What could Grassie [and others surely] have been thinking about with the Russell affair in motion, surely during the proceedings an indication as to the way the unfair dismissal tribunal was going filtered through or were the cuddly friendly methods of the Dodson Model of ‘Man management’ still the default position with regard to the organisation and running of the SRU?
    Whilst reading the article I noticed some Headings one of which was ‘The 10 Questions that need to be answered’ and thought that I would read the article once more. Dodson and Howat were severely criticised by Judge D’Inverno in June 2018 and the questions raised in an article filed by David Barnes on 28th September of the same year.
    I am curious to ask Mr. Barnes [or anyone else with the knowledge for that matter] some 18 months later, were any of those questions posed responded to in a meaningful way rather than vacuous PR waffle either in person or in an SRU statement?
    I have a hope and I am sure it is one shared by many others that as in Grassie’s and Dodson’s previous positions when the new Broom arrives it sweeps and sweeps well.

  6. Astounded by the timing of this.

    Scottish Rugby is facing it’s biggest challenge in a decade and the Chairman is stepping down with no successor announced? Surely this is not a surprise- why is there not someone lined up? Sourcing an appropriate external replacement will be very challenging in this current environment.

    And no this is not a statement of support for the board or the Chairman.

    13
    1
    • Appoint an interim Chair from the NEDs and away we go. It had become clear that Grassie no longer has the confidence of the Scottish Rugby members, no point in prolonging it as it is hard to see what the value would be in that. He has announced it early which is the correct thing to do, it’s highly likely that he was already planning on stepping down at the AGM anyway. This crisis will bring about further changes I am sure, which has to be a positive thing.

      8
      1
    • No surprise really of the timing. He’s stuck in his castle on the west coast of the Highlands. Probably no – or at best, shite – internet to continue business. Lesley Thomson QC (Independent Non Executive Director) called him out and sent him homeward to think again about lying in office.

  7. One or two points arise from this.
    First, the Task Force should either be stood down until Ian Barr takes over or he should replace the current chair of the TF with immediate effect.
    Secondly, I believe the votes at any AGM should be “anonymous”, even a show of hands has a certain anonymity about it. With electronic voting, that anonimity is lost.
    Surely the AGM could be postponed, otherwise opposing motions could become a farce in terms of voting.
    Maybe my notions on this are full of holes, but, as a conspiracy theorist I suspect I smell something.

    9
    2
    • Unfortunately I don’t think the current incumbents at Murrayfeild can be trusted with an anonymous vote for anything. They didn’t even go to the length of holding any vote on how to conclude this season. They simply contacted some (they claim about 65%) clubs with a multitude of options while pushing as they had already decided, the null n void scenario. They claim a ‘significant majority’ opted for the outcome that they had already decided they would implement. Personally, I think that’s a lie. There was no reason to rush the decision or not to contact every club. Apparently one of the many options muttered about was to give every team 2 league points for each unfulfilled fixture but apparently that was only given as a potential option to some of the randomly selected clubs that were contacted. The SRU are treating the rugby clubs of Scotland with a complete lack of respect (to put it very politely)

  8. This is a positive step. I applaud Mr Grassie for falling on his sword but that doesn’t excuse the clusterburouch at Murrayfield. And some of the doublespeak in the statement is mind boggling.

    The Board won’t even engage with Taskforce until after AGM when Ian Barr will be in the Presidents chair. You what? The Taskforce should be ceased immediately and governance review handed over to VP and SCOG as requested in the club letter to Dee Bradbury.

    On the replacement of the Chair. This is curious. With Mr Grassie staying until August will he be assisting in the selection of his replacement?

    Given we have a pressing need for a governance review and implementation of that review, it would make much more sense to appoint an Interim Chair until such a review is concluded. The new Chair would then be selected on the requirements of the new structure.

    I thank Colin Grassie for his service but the time to step down is now.

    10
    3
  9. The writings on he Wall. Get shot of the Fat Controller, President ( the puppetmaster and Puppet) and Scottish Rugby well on the way to recovery. Note that Grassie still thinks that the the right people are in place

    16
  10. This is a positive step. I applaud Mr Grassie for falling on his sword but that doesn’t excuse the clusterburouch at Murrayfield. And some of the doublespeak in the statement is mind boggling.

    The Board won’t even engage with Taskforce until after AGM when Ian Barr will be in the Presidents chair. You what? The Taskforce should be ceased immediately and governance review handed over to VP and SCOG as requested in the club letter to Dee Bradbury.

    On the replacement of the Chair. This is curious. With Mr Grassie staying until August will he be assisting in the selection of his replacement?

    Given we have a pressing need for a governance review and implementation of that review, it would make much more sense to appoint an Interim Chair until such a review is concluded. The new Chair would then be selected on the requirements of the new structure.

    I thank Colin Grassie for his service but the time to step down is now.

  11. This is positive news for clubland ,but additionally it is vital both that Ian Barr takes over in August and that the self appointed Governance Task Force is now stopped until after the AGM.

    15
    1
    • Fingers crossed a few more (of the fatter) rats will desert…. and be replaced by truly fresh independent blood with a new approach – i.e. no promotion for already complicit non-execs and establishment back-scratchers & appointees, the likes of Jeffrey, Rankin and Gammell, etc.

Comments are closed.