Mark Dodson’s contract extended to June 2025

Scottish Rugby Board unanimously agree to new deal

Mark Dodson has extended his contract as CEO of Scottish Rugby until 2025. Image: © Craig Watson -
Mark Dodson has extended his contract as CEO of Scottish Rugby until 2025. Image: © Craig Watson -

SCOTTISH RUGBY Chief Executive Mark Dodson has had his contact extended by 18 months to run until June 2025, which will be four months short of his 65th birthday.

Dodson has run Scottish Rugby since September 2011, when he replaced Gordon McKie. His tenure has coincided with Scotland’s two pro teams becoming more competitive, with the high-point being Glasgow Warriors’ triumph in the Guinness PRO14 – as it was then known – in 2015, and he is currently committed to a programme of increased investment in Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors with the aim of further closing the gap on (or at least keeping pace with) the major powers in European club rugby.

Results on the international stage have been patchy. He was just in the door when Scotland Men failed to progress from the group stage of a World Cup for the first time ever in 2011 so can hardly be held accountable for that. The national team then came within a controversial refereeing decision of reaching the semi-finals of the 2015 World Cup, before once again being eliminated at the pool stage in 2019. There has been some excellent isolated successes in the Six Nations such as recent wins in London and Paris, but Scotland have finished in the top half of the table only twice, in 2013 and 2018, during Dodson’s time in office.

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Meanwhile, Scotland Women defeated Colombia in February to qualify for their first World Cup since 2010, which will be played in New Zealand later this year, but have managed to win just three Six Nations matches in total (the last win being in 2018) since Dodson’s appointment.

Significant growth in income during his tenure, in line with the pattern globally, has been in tandem with spiralling costs, and it was concerning that the May 2020 accounts were published four months late and only after a £20m Covid support package from the Scottish Government was directed towards Murrayfield.

There was uproar in January 2020 when it emerged that Dodson had received aggregate emoluments of £933k for the year up to the 31st May 2019, more than double the £455k earned the previous year, with generous bonuses being awarded despite the SRU having lost an unfair dismissal case to former Director of Domestic Rugby Keith Russell during the previous 12 months.

There is concern amongst Scottish rugby’s grassroots about Dodson’s commitment to properly supporting and growing the game at that level, with Scotland continuing to have the smallest player base, by some considerable distance, of the top 11 rugby playing nations in the world.

Controversial initiatives such as the Agenda 3 funding programme, the creation of the Super6 league to sit above the traditional club game, the strategic partnership with Stade Nicois in France and the purchase of a share of American MLR franchise Old Glory DC have all been the source of considerable rancour.

However, Dodson is a man of iron will who has a track record of fighting his corner, both personally and on behalf of Scottish Rugby. His contract extension was unanimously agreed by the Board.

“The new agreement will enable Scottish Rugby to draw on Dodson’s extensive rugby and business experience, developed over 12-years leading the executive team at BT Murrayfield, as it navigates a series of operational and strategic priorities,” said a statement issued by Scottish Rugby this [Thursday] morning.

“He gives Scotland an experienced and respected voice around the table for the on-going global calendar discussions which will shape the immediate future of the game. He also sits on the Finance, Audit and Risk and Professional Game committees at World Rugby.

“Scottish Rugby is also continuing its rebuild phase post-pandemic and has bounced back incredibly well financially. This has enabled consistent development and investment in the sport.

“Dodson’s commercial experience and track record of finding new sources of investment in the game of rugby – having played a pivotal role in the long-term strategic partnership announced in March 2021 between CVC and Six Nations Rugby – will be called upon by Scottish Rugby as it continues to deepen its sponsorship portfolio against a challenging period of rising societal costs, interest rates and financial uncertainty.

“Dodson has over the last decade developed strong relationships in Government and across the world game.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Rugby Board Chairman, John Jeffrey, said: “Mark’s track record leading Scottish Rugby speaks for itself and as we enter what is likely to be a period of significant change and some uncertainty the Board unanimously agreed to ask him to continue for an additional 18-months.

“Through our governance review we are proposing changing how Scottish Rugby is structured and this is likely to take some time to establish. The Executive team, led by Mark, will be vital in helping this happen and it is important we can have continuity and experience around the table as that work progresses.

“The global picture in rugby invariably shapes what we can do locally in Scotland so, again, we felt it was right to have Mark in post, with his international experience at this point in the world game too.”

Scottish Rugby President, Ian Barr, added: “We are entering a key period in the history of Scottish Rugby as our governance proposals are developed and new bodies are created to deliver.

“It is vital Scottish Rugby continues to be successful on and off the pitch and it was obvious that Mark’s experience would be hugely beneficial to help us achieve this, as the new governance structures bed in.”

Scottish Rugby Vice-President Colin Rigby, who will take on the role of President following the AGM in August, said: “Having worked with Mark over the past couple of years I believe it is the right move to extend his tenure to allow Scottish Rugby to work through the coming years with business continuity.

“The sporting landscape moves at a rapid rate and it is important we maintain the positive momentum post-pandemic.

“It is a changing commercial landscape out there and Mark’s rugby and business knowledge, coupled with his Executive team, will be very valuable in the coming years.”

Dodson said: “To know there was unanimous support on the Board to extend my role for a further 18-months was a key factor in the decision to accept their offer to continue in post.

“I know how hard all our people work to deliver rugby across Scotland and on the international stage and I remain fully committed to leading them through what is likely to be a challenging and unpredictable period.

“The new governance structure will offer a fresh start for the way rugby is managed in Scotland.

“I am delighted to continue leading Scottish Rugby until 2025.”

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About David Barnes 3912 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.


  1. We are a tiny Rugby nation that continues to punch well above its weight. Despite the fact (see all the comments) we expend more energy on infighting than getting together to build the game. Is Dodson perfect – No! Has he helped transform the games finances – Yes! Have the pro-teams done much better (though not as well as we would like) under his watch – yes! The biggest thing that will deliver more youngsters into the game is successful pro and national teams. No effort on the part of local clubs without this will work. The 2003 World cup win transformed the game in England, players, spectators and money went through the roof. So lets get together as a community to drive to that success. Less energy on back biting and dispute more energy on driving the success we all want – please.

  2. Despite Iain Milne’s comments that Dodson is the best CEO the SRU have had, then it only goes to show the paucity of the others and for those who recruited him. Bad move on the part of the SRU as Scottish rugby is falling further behind virtually every other nation, soon we will be competing at a lower level against Spain, Georgia etc. What a sad indictment on Dodson & John Jeffrey and their tenure at the SRU – I would strongly recommend that all Scottish club teams leave the Union and form a separate association (it cannot me worse than the current nonsense). These former rugby internationalists are meant to bring gravitas to the role however it appears it only brings a gravy train for them and the hangers-on!! Edinburgh & Glasgow – summarily dismissed by their competitors: Super 6 virtually anonymous; Club rugby gets less coverage than pigeon racing – thanks to the efforts of Dodson, Jeffrey et al. We need a revolution to rid us of these clowns.

    • I can only imagine someone hacked Iain Milne’s account to explain his ringing endorsement of Mr Dodson.

      It needs people with standing in the game to speak up and tell those supposedly in charge what is really happening in Scottish rugby but sadly as at the time when Keith Russell needed some support against the bullies so many are found to be looking the other way in their support of the gravy train.

      No wonder Scottish rugby (and that means the whole game) is in such a mess

  3. Great picture of ‘ His Highness ‘ He who must be obeyed to put on my Dartboard .

  4. The SRU extending the CEO contract is just another strange example of them not getting their priorities in the correct order.
    Consider this if Scottish qualified players do not come through ‘a system’ properly organised from the base Club game upwards and consequently the Men’s XV don’t do well in the 6N or the WC then gate receipts go down and the ability to find money to restore the little we have will leave us pray to up and coming sides in Europe who have been targeting Italy to be dropped, and no doubt an additional drain to our professional players heading off south or further afield for the money.
    That’s a position Scotland could or will be in if something radical isn’t done to ensure Scotland stays in the Top Tier of the Men’s game, both International and Club, we need urgently to address the lack of playing time for players coming through the Clubs.
    Under the present SRU regime no doubt we will keep on diverting valuable funds from the grassroots whilst virtue signaling financial support for areas that don’t bring home the Bacon.
    Professional or semi professional players don’t just arrive, they progress from School and amateur Clubs and that is where the SRU have to make best use of the limited funds they have available, perhaps Dodson shouldn’t have dumped Keith Russell.
    If you only support 2 professional sides then you need to offer up more financial support to what was and no doubt still is the heartland of the game, the Clubs, instead of wasting funds on Super6 and getting involved in supporting a women’s professional game, on the strength of ‘chatter’ from the Shelbourne clique in Dublin pushing for a women’s pro league that from the get go will be a drain on finances.
    Frankly I care not whether the usual suspects consider my position misogynistic, it isn’t, it’s financially realistic.
    As regards support for the Women’s World cup squad, by all means offer support but until the women’s game is viable make it a one off and not a rolling contract that inevitably will become an expensive folly just as the Super 6 appears to be, Only a ‘flannel’ merchant could think up the word ‘Super’ to obscure what is a faux competition.

  5. Irrational to credit Dodson with an up-turn in SRU finances, when the two significant “windfall” cash inflows actually resulted from:

    1. the concerted work of other Celtic (League) nations over several years, plus 6 Nations partners, in which the SRU actually played minor roles, and

    2. a Scottish Government financial bailout hardly justfied by the figures contained in the financial dossier submitted in support of the SRU claim for emergency Covid support.

    • A bailout which was explicitly for grassroots rugby not the coffers of SA agents. The other major issue was the BT sponsorship which Dodson had no part of.

    • its irrational not to see the huge increases in Murrayfield gate money, not to remember the huge BT investment. Or that last time round 6N TV revenue deal went down. Yet the debt reduced from £24m to IRRC £1-2M, all before covid and govt grants

  6. I admit I am not a fan of the person concerned, however I question the commercial sense of extending a contract in June 2022 when there is an absolutely perfect time line with the conclusion of the World Cup in France.

    The Rugby World Cup final is on 28th October 2023 and that offers up the question why extend the contract now when there is at least a minimum of 5 months from the very best possible result for Scotland to assess the overall results of our performance prior to and including the World Cup.

    With the information that he is of retiring age some 4 months after this extended deal is there some plan afoot that will ‘platinum’ plate a pension on top of the ‘gold plated’ salary he is on at the moment.

  7. The rumour is: Odgers (the London-based head hunters company which the SRU commissioned to find a successor) could not find a suitable candidate who was willing to take on the job, because of the current governance structure and the future potential for strife. They interviewed about half a dozen high quality applicants and narrowed it down to two. Neither accepted the invitation for a second stage interview.

  8. He may well have been spot on re: Hagibis, but he handled it exceptionally poorly. He’s paid to navigate such political tempests and failed badly, misreading the stakeholders in that decision so poorly that he copped the SRU a hefty fine (which he could easily have paid himself from his bonus, but didn’t).

  9. What track record . He’s just fleecing SRU finances .accountable to nobody it seems
    The yes men in Murrayfield won’t say a word against this man .
    Spoilt Scottish rugby further down the leagues with his couldnt care less attitude .
    Invented something called super 6 that nobody is interested in .
    When it goes belly up who pays the debts I wonder

    • funny how the SRU paid down the debt under Dodson which grass roots management ran up
      funny how the SRU president and VP endorse Dodson. Who elects the Pres and VP? (hint, it isn’t Dodson)

      • Dogma, go back and look at SRU accounts before Dodson. The previous chief exec cut everything to the bone such was the size of the debt – which was still increasing. He even cut Border Rievers. That debt was run up by the general committee (and its appointees), who run up expenses you probably won’t believe.
        Then look at the SRU accounts and debt – how it has diminished during Dodson’s reign, but also revenues grown – while he also oversaw investment in the professional teams (who are the lifeblood of the cash cow, the national team). Murrayfield is full pretty much every game. It wasn’t always like that, and that is despite huge price hikes.
        Dodson is not perfect and I was surprised he wasn’t let go after the Russell business but his financial record is top drawer

  10. Makes sense given the impending structural changes with SCOG.

    An 18 month extension is an interesting timeframe though. I wonder who set that? MD himself or the Board?

  11. Fantastic News, onwards and upwards friends, can’t think of a better guy going forward. Hopefully another extension beyond 2025 awaits

  12. “Successful” isn’t the word I would choose to sum up Dodson’s reign with SRU. Our U20’s and our women’s team were humiliated in their tourneys. Our pro teams are mid-table at best and unless they pursue some major impact players this off-season, they will remain mid-table. The national team will repeat their so-so performances of the last 6Nations and will continue to do so under Townsend, as he has taken this squad as far as he can. Apart from some financial dealings, Dodson has been unremarkable. My only fear is that when he goes eventually he will be replaced by someone worse!

  13. Great news, best CEO we’ve had since the game went professional unless someone can convince we’ve had better.

    • That’s like saying you’re the dirtiest person in Dundee. All the plaudits with little prestige.

      Settling for mediocre and crass combined with poor judgement is not what you want if you’re aspiring to a performance culture.

    • How do you feel about the comments made by the judge on the Keith Russell tribunal? Was that a ringing endorsement of your beloved leader??

  14. Great news for Scottish rugby, glad he is staying as I’m sure he won’t be short of suitors looking to give him a job. Onwards and upwards!

  15. So a man who has almost no interest in club and grassroots rugby is rewarded for that with another lucrative contract. It seems the problems within Scottish rugby can’t only be laid at Mr Dodson’s door.

  16. What a surprise. Why not wait until after the World cup before renewing his contract? Oh, I know the SRU back scratching contingent makes sure Dodson stays in post so they also keep their noses in the trough as well.
    Might as well extend Toonies contract now if accountability means nothing.


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