AT long last, Scottish rugby got a new governance structure earlier this evening when a Special General Meeting of member clubs voted by an overwhelming majority [97.89%] in favour of the SRU Council’s Standing Committee on Governance [SCOG] proposals which have been painstakingly drawn-up over the last two years. Immediate past president Ian Barr – the driving force behind the review which led to this point – called it a “line in the sand” moment.
The new structure will involve the creation of a company limited by guarantee [CLG] consisting of eight unpaid ‘Custodians’ – who will as a matter of law be classified as Directors with all the consequent statutory duties and obligations – which will oversee the work of the operating arm of the game known as ‘Scottish Rugby Limited’ (ie the current Board).
This seismic change in how the game in this country is ultimately run is the result of a series of governance failures in 2018 and 2019 which caused serious anxiety about whether the current Board had ceased to be in tune and accountable to the Union’s membership.
“It has been a bit of a marathon and at times it has been challenging, but Scottish Rugby needed and deserved a governance review and then a new structure, which will allow us to go forward working collaboratively,” said Barr.
He then turned his attention to Professor Lorne Crerar CBE, the Glasgow lawyer who became Independent Chair of SCOG last December, and who has now assumed the position of Interim Chair of the new company.
“I am absolutely delighted that Lorne has brought this to life, and I think we’ve got an opportunity here to draw a line in the sand and to move forward together,” he said.
“Scottish Rugby’s logo is ‘AsOne’ and I think that is something we should aspire to in moving forward. I think this new structure will bring that clarity, it will bring that transparency, openness, honesty, integrity, all those values that we all think Scottish Rugby should have had for a long time.
“I‘m really looking forward to it,” added Barr, who will be one of the first ‘Custodians’. “There will not be much time for resting. It was hard work to get to this point, and a different type of hard work now starts to get everything in place so that member clubs are well represented at all times.”
The SGM was hosted by current President Colin Rigby, who will also be a Custodian alongside Crerar, Barr as immediate past President, current Vice-President Keith Wallace, two members elected by the clubs and two individuals selected with the assistance of recruitment consultants
Rigby said: “The governance process has been a long and evolving road to arrive at today’s outcome. This is a significant milestone in the history of the Scottish Rugby Union, where all stakeholders now have clarity around governance, roles and responsibility.
“May I thank Professor Lorne Crerar, Chair of SCOG, the SCOG team, the current Council and their predecessors for their time, expertise and diligence in arriving at the submissions that you [the club delegates] have now democratically chosen.”
Crerar added: “As Chair of the new custodian company, Scottish Rugby Union, I will make sure that all the promises for a new, well-functioning governance system will absolutely be delivered.
“In anticipation of a positive vote tonight, preparations are already under way to commence the recruitment of two non-executive Custodian directors through the member network and a further two by way of external recruitment agencies. You [member clubs] will all shortly receive information for identifying candidates and their important role in the oversight of the operations of rugby in Scotland. I would ask that you help us find and encourage the very best talent for Custodian positions. The roles are a privileged insight into the operations and brand of Scottish Rugby and a very important way to contribute to the well being and prosperity of rugby in Scotland which is so important to all of us.”
Launch date for the new structure is 1st November.
Immediately before the online SGM, the second part of the SRU’s AGM unanimously approved the 2022 accounts.