John Jeffrey to stay on Board for three more years after stepping down as Chair next summer

Lorne Crerar gives an update on progress of his Custodian Board since new governance structure launched at the start of November

John Jeffrey (Chair of the Scottish Rugby Limited Board) and Mark Dodson (Scottish Rugby Chief Executive Officer). image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
John Jeffrey (Chair of the Scottish Rugby Limited Board) and Mark Dodson (Scottish Rugby Chief Executive Officer). image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

THE recruitment process to find an individual to replace John Jeffrey as Chair of the Scottish Rugby Limited Board (in charge of the day-to-day running of the organisation) will begin in the New Year. However, the former international flanker will stay on as a Senior Non-Executive Board member for another three years from the time his tenure as Chair ends.

Jeffrey initially joined the Board in May 2020, having been a co-opted (unelected) member of the old Scottish Rugby Council since 2010, and was immediately appointed Chair on a temporary basis in place of Colin Grassie, who had recently stepped down a year earlier than planned. That became a permanent appointment in December 2020, with his three-year term due to end in May 2023.

“An extensive recruitment process will begin in the new year for a new Chair of the Scottish Rugby Limited Board, recently renamed followed the conclusion of the governance review,” explained a Murrayfield statement. “At a meeting in late November the Scottish Rugby Limited Board voted unanimously to retain Jeffrey as a Senior Non-Executive Board Member for a further three-year term from the end of his time as Chair given his extensive knowledge and influence in the game, especially at international level through his respective World Rugby roles.”


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“The process to appoint a new Chair will be led by Senior Independent Director Lesley Thomson KC supported by Bob Richmond representing the Board’s Nominations sub-committee and Scottish Rugby’s Chief People & Engagement Officer, Shona Bell and Chair of the Scottish Rugby Union, Professor Lorne Crerar.”

Under the new governance structure, which an overwhelming majority of member clubs voted for at a Scottish Rugby SGM in September, final approval of the appointment is in the gift of Crerar’s ‘Custodian Board’ or ‘NewCo’ – a company limited by guarantee – which sits at the apex of the Scottish Rugby ecosystem, with active oversight of the Limited Board and direct accountability to the membership.

“I’d like to thank JJ for his significant contribution to Scottish Rugby during his time as Chair,” said Thomson. “Coming into the role while we were in the grip of the Covid pandemic was not an easy task and he helped the Board and Scottish Rugby to navigate its way through that period, and beyond, successfully.

“I think it’s important we don’t lose his expertise so I’m very pleased he will continue to be a Board member in the coming years where his knowledge and associations with the global game will be of real value.”

Jeffrey said: “We have covered an enormous amount of ground over the period I have had the privilege of chairing the Board, from the pandemic through to the implementation of our new strategy – Wellbeing, Women and Winning.

“The timing is right to enable the important work being undertaken around diversity and inclusion in the Scottish Rugby Board to continue. I’d like to thank my Board colleagues and all the hard-working people at Scottish Rugby who have supported me while I was in post.

“Together we have achieved a lot of important work and I’m pleased, and grateful, to have the support of the Board to continue to contribute alongside them in a new capacity for a further three years.”

 

One full minute before the press release from Scottish Rugby’s media department announced this news late on Tuesday afternoon, a communication from Murrayfield was issued to club committee members in which the fifth of six items on the agenda (under a note about the Rugby Development department’s Christmas opening hours) was an update from Scottish Rugby President Colin Rigby.

This was a 2,620 word document which covered a wide range of matters including an update from Crerar as Chair of the new Custodian Board, in which he outlined the progress his group has made so far.

Following a competitive tender process, a preferred firm of recruitment consultants has been engaged to identify suitable candidates for the two external custodian positions on the Board, with over 60 senior business leaders attracted to these unremunerated roles, a number which has now been whittled down to four candidates to take part in final interviews with the Union Board Members on 15th December 2022.

“My expectation is that you will be very pleased with the quality and calibre of the appointees which will be so important in the exercise of informed oversight of SRL and the operations of BT Murrayfield,” said Crerar.

“A well-managed relationship with SRL will be a key objective of the Union,” he added. “It is a time of transition for all areas of the business and as well as recruitment for the Union Board, there is also much happening within SRL. I have met with the Senior Non-Executive Director on two occasions already as they embark upon the recruitment of new Non-Executive Directors and of a Chair further to a competitive process being carried out, with the assistance of an external recruitment agency.  The Chair’s current term of office ends in May 2023.  It has been agreed that I will be part of the selection panel for the Chair position in due course.  The approval of the appointment of Chair of SRL is a reserved matter for the Union Board.’

There was also an update from the new Club Rugby Board (CRB) which is Chaired by Vice President Keith Wallace.

“The Club Rugby Board has met for the first time and whilst it consists of the former Council Members, the meeting focussed on the change of role the new structure demands,” he explained. “The role of the CRB is much narrower than the Council’s role but goes much deeper into the domestic game with significant responsibilities including:

  • Agreeing Strategy for the Club Game
  • Budget formation and implementation
  • Domestic Season and Competition Structures
  • Disciplinary panel membership
  • Club and union support programs
  • Club and union member name changes
  • Training and education programs
  • Oversight of match officials in domestic leagues
  • Domestic game regulatory matters
  • Club and amateur pathways
  • Other versions of rugby eg 7s tartan touch etc

“This will involve working hand in glove with the Director of Rugby Development, Gav Scott, and his Rugby Development colleagues, and it is pleasing to report that this is already going really well.

“In addition to business as usual for the Rugby Development the following additional activities are planned for the rest of the season:

  • Agreeing terms of reference for the various fora, so that member club voices can be consistently and regularly heard, with a focus on “competing on the field, collaborating off it”
  • Agreeing reporting requirements to the new SRU Board, and from that regular quarterly communications to member clubs
  • A series of work groups which will focus on pressing issues, predominately around improving the fulfilment of fixtures in the adult male game. These groups will involve individuals from Rugby Development, CRB, Clubs and the Youth Panel.
  • A Club Rugby Conference at BTM, likely to be in June, where we will share best practice and get input from member clubs to a new strategy.
  • A review of the effectiveness of the composition of CRB after it first six months of operation, inline with SCOG’s recommendation to keep this under review.

“Finally, some initial work has commenced looking into the huge value that clubs bring to rugby and indeed to Scotland, including the considerable combined investment of finance and volunteer time, which benefits society up and down the country.  In this respect it is likely that we will come to you in due course with a questionnaire which will help us capture hard evidence of this value, to then help us further promote our great game.”

To read the President’s update in full, click HERE.


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About David Barnes 3181 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.

17 Comments

  1. Sadly, Craigie boy – with extensive experience of working with / for several disparate sports governing bodies (including rugby) in Scotland & elsewhere, I am fully aware (and briefed) on all of this stuff, including the RMA & MoU. On the other hand, I do not personally represent any of my rugby clubs (past or present) in this instance. Nor do I have any truck with the earlier machinations of Dee Bradbury, such as they were, or my former club & team-mate Bill Gammell….

    There are several aspects to this. As I’ve previously mentioned, the new SCOG structure represents a step towards progress, but it certainly ain’t looking particularly modern (being significantly “tall”, hierarchical, bureaucratic) nor does it offer enhanced efficiency / responsiveness. These are essential features in today’s fast-moving sport and sport business environments. All as you may know, if you are as switched on as I suspect.

    While the fundamental intention was to clip the wings of the executive / Junta, as we have already seen, SRUL Board emerges relative free to swing the lead as it pleases, despite the “on paper” legalistic tightening of accountability…. Real life may prove to be rather different in practice, and notwithstanding some relative weak controls, SRUL might well continue as a self-perpetuating oligarchy.

    Can we take a moment to reflect upon the veritable regiment of lawyers who have passed this way since Dunlop, himself following on from Clashfern – MacColl, Flockhart, Bracewell, Crerar, Frazer, Thomson, Johnston, etc? They haven’t all lasted the pace, nor have they sung from the same quite shambolic, frantically rushed hymn sheet, either! People tend to say lots of things about the legal fraternity / sorority – good, bad & ugly – SRU immediate Past President certainly appears blinded by their brilliance. Let’s hope for the sake of SCOG’s legacy that they aren’t akin to lighthouses in the desert!

    What does appear less than encouraging is that the determinedly upwardly mobile Crerar has been given so much licence to mark his own and Frazer’s relatively basic homework, and then to publlicly pat himself on the back for their plucky endeavours…. Are you connected to these fellows in any way, Craigie?

    Whatever – give it time… You’ll then understand that I’ve got this right, and the SCOG structure we seen is no more than a rather rough and ready starting point, irrespective of the stipulations in the RMA & MoU.

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  2. Hoo-rah! At last we’re starting to see the new Union we voted for bear it’s teeth. JJ’s being bounced sideways, just as he’s already been at 6 Nations when CVC came in and realised the nonsense of a farmer being left in charge of a multi-million £ biz. JJ may be “the Great White Shark” in the memory of a lot of us or whatever his publicist (TCD?) makes him out to be, but it’s farce to have him at the wheel. He’s not a business professional: he’s a farmer who works the room (albeit very effectively, I’m told).
    His demotion to NXD status is nothing less than a humbling IMO. It may serve to offer him some kind of status from which the Murrayfield apparatchiks will doubtlessly attempt to launch a bid for him to succeed Bill Beaumont as Chair of WR. Just so long as Bernard Laporte gets the pokey in the next week or so for his particular misdemeanours, that is. That being so maybe, just maybe JJ can make it to the top job. But if that’s gonna happen, WTF should any of us care (?) – he’ll be out of our hair at least, and the folk in charge of the day job can get back to focussing on Scottish rugby itself instead of trying to manage the aspirations and ambitions of our narcissistic subsidiary company Chair.

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    • Interesting thoughts there Craigie.

      Perhaps as we are seeing in politics that the next generation will begin to assert their influence and the old jobs for the boys (where is that diversity strategy when you need it?) will fall on its face?

      WR does seem to be more of a social club than a meaningful governing body so unlikely there will be an upset.

      You do raise an interesting point though. What are the achievements of our current Chair in the rugby admin sphere? One of the commentators below lists our abject performance at international level across the various teams. I must be missing something.

    • Good stuff, Craigie – but remember that the multi-conflicted John Jeffrey’s (already extended) period in the office of SRUL Chairman will have run its course next May. Some might view his already publicly-approved intention to remain on the SRUL Board as an early slap in the face to the SCOG guerillas!

      Whatever, there remain serious shortcomings in the new governance structure so glowingly heralded recently by SCOG Chairman Crerar….

      For instance, the new SCOG set-up is nothing more than a fundamentally restricted “lawyer’s take” on a governance structure with a series of underlying processes – but only up to the extent of an average legal eagle’s range of vision & understanding, focusing primarily upon hierarchical functional representation, and (on paper at least) forcing some accountability from the old SRUL Board. That said, this will go nowhere fast, and will probably end in tears.

      In short – we see a massively “tall”, excessively labyrinthine, potentially slow-paced, convoluted bureaucracy containing numerous shortcomings, principally a failure to address real-life operational issues such as organisational dynamics, responsiveness and overall organisational performance measurement.

      Problems ahead… The SRUL Board appears untouched by changes, and on the basis of what we have seen to date, will keep trucking on, able to run rings around scrutiny or monitoring by CLG “Custodians” – e.g. by kicking all of its cans down the road all of the time, paying only lip service to the implementation of approved strategies, etc. How on earth will CLG be in a position to jump in meaningfully from within its quarterly meetings schedule when commercial, media rights & other deals with tight deadlines come on to SRUL’s table? As they occasionally do!

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      • It will be done via the relationship management agreement.

        The specific intention is to let the professionals manage the business but within strict agreed parameters. Unlike at the moment where SRUL agree it all by themselves.

        It’s not like this is an unusual arrangement. The Guardian have a trust set up as does Edrington. Do you think the Robertson Trust let the Edrington management do whatever they like?

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      • Thx for the reply Ein Stein. I’ll give you your first couple of paras, but your third is just so wide of the mark, you’d embarrass your club if they knew what you’d said on this (assuming of course) you actually have a member club behind you.
        Have YOU actually read the RMA, the MOU and the new Articles for the Union and its subsidiary,SRL (aka BTM)? Hmmm, I thought not. Yet they are all there on the SRU website if you want to search for them.
        “Labyrinthine”, “slow-paced” and “convoluted” – you might have a point. But it does sound like you’re also living in a Gammell / Murray and / or Dee’s Task Force “wonderland” mate. Have you considered the specified “Reserved Matters”for instance in “Crerar”? When you have, and done your homework on all this, get back to me. 😉 Then we might begin a sensible conversation about SR.

      • Sadly, Craigie boy – with extensive experience of working with / for several disparate sports governing bodies (including rugby) in Scotland & elsewhere, I am fully aware (and briefed) on all of this stuff, including the RMA & MoU. On the other hand, I do not personally represent any of my rugby clubs (past or present) in this instance. Nor do I have any truck with the earlier machinations of Dee Bradbury, such as they were, or my former club & team-mate Bill Gammell….

        There are several aspects to this. As I’ve previously mentioned, the new SCOG structure represents a step towards progress, but it certainly ain’t looking particularly modern (being significantly “tall”, hierarchical, bureaucratic) nor does it offer enhanced efficiency / responsiveness. These are essential features in today’s fast-moving sport and sport business environments. All as you may know, if you are as switched on as I suspect.

        While the fundamental intention was to clip the wings of the executive / Junta, as we have already seen, SRUL Board emerges relative free to swing the lead as it pleases, despite the “on paper” legalistic tightening of accountability…. Real life may prove to be rather different in practice, and notwithstanding some relative weak controls, SRUL might well continue as a self-perpetuating oligarchy.

        Can we take a moment to reflect upon the veritable regiment of lawyers who have passed this way since Dunlop, himself following on from Clashfern – MacColl, Flockhart, Bracewell, Crerar, Frazer, Thomson, Johnston, etc? They haven’t all lasted the pace, nor have they sung from the same quite shambolic, frantically rushed hymn sheet, either! People tend to say lots of things about the legal fraternity / sorority – good, bad & ugly – SRU immediate Past President certainly appears blinded by their brilliance. Let’s hope for the sake of SCOG’s legacy that they aren’t akin to lighthouses in the desert!

        What does appear less than encouraging is that the determinedly upwardly mobile Crerar has been given so much licence to mark his own and Frazer’s relatively basic homework, and then to publlicly pat himself on the back for their plucky endeavours…. Are you connected to these fellows in any way, Craigie?

        Whatever – give it time… You’ll then understand that I’ve got this right, and the SCOG structure we seen is no more than a rather rough and ready starting point, irrespective of the stipulations in the RMA & MoU.

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  3. I think the main thrust of what most people think is that this lot cannot be trusted. Its all smoke and mirrors with little or no substance.

    They make grand claims about progress without any evidence or competitive results. Our men’s national side is standing still and has been for years. Our women’s national side are 10th, Our men’s 7’s are outside the top 10 as are our women’s.

    Our pro sides haven’t won anything in 10 years and the Super 6 is not working as a pathway for those Pro or National sides.

    These are the ONLY measures that count to the fans and supporters of the union.

    Can someone explain to me how that is progress?

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  4. It may be stating the obvious to say that there can be significant differences between a fine and dandy, pretty paper exercise and its translation into a real-life workable function.

    And, so it is likely to prove in the case of the SRU’s brand-new corporate governance structure, which is simply an un-business-like lawyer’s vision of a multi-layered bureaucracy, an over-complex monolith, dressed-up and promoted to the great unwashed as a form of progress.

    Despite getting Member Clubs’ representatives’ hands on the SRU (CLG) tiller, the new structure, pursuant to SCOG, appears excessively complicated, labyrinthine, convoluted and hugely bureaucratic. In the world of corporate governance, we would regard that as having too many layers and inherent processes to facilitate responsive management… As such, it is liable to be inefficient, lumbering and consequently ineffective, albeit in a different (certainly more accountable) manner than the previous corporate governance structure.

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    • A wise man might think that good, well-intentioned people can make even a defective governance structure operate successfully / effectively, whereas the converse can also be true…..

      We need the right people at the top in Scottish Rugby!

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  5. Another yes man willing to receive a huge salary for supporting the discredited Dodson. No wonder Scottish rugby is in so much trouble.

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  6. It’s good to see the new governance structure taking shape. Amazingly the old board haven’t taken the opportunity to refresh their structure. It’s certainly an eye opener that the x chair moves to join the board which he once chaired.

    But lovely to see where governance sits on SR hierarchy. Right after confirming opening hours for Christmas.

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  7. Filed after the Christmas opening hours, just to remind the Clubs and their elected representatives of their place in the bigger scheme of things.

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  8. Filed after the Christmas opening hours, just to remind the Clubs and their elected representatives of the Clubs their place in the bigger scheme of things.

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