SRU Council to discuss fall-out from Keith Russell affair

Still no sign of "detailed document" on Agenda 3 proposals

Rob Flockhart
SRU President Rob Flockhart will chair a meeting of the SRU Council today via conference call from Houston, where the roles of Robert Howat and Mark Dodson in the unfair dismissal of Keith Russell will be discussed - ***Image: Fotosport/David Gibson***

AN emergency SRU Council meeting will convene later today [Friday] to discuss the outcome of Keith Russell’s employment tribunal hearing and the scathing criticism the former Director of Domestic Rugby levelled against the organisation last Sunday after it was ruled that his dismissal had been “both procedurally and substantively unfair”.

SRU President Rob Flockhart – whose responsibilities include chairing the Council – is in Houston with the national team at the moment and will take part in the meeting via conference call.

The Keith Russell Affair –

Keith Russell wins unfair dismissal case against the Scottish Rugby Union

Keith Russell: ‘It is so disappointing to realise that the guys at the top are not good guys and do not represent the values and culture of rugby’

Keith Russell: ‘Understanding that the clubs are the key stakeholders in the sport in Scotland is a distraction that they would prefer to avoid’

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

An SRU spokesman issued a statement on Saturday evening in response to the tribunal judgement, which said: “Scottish Rugby acknowledges the outcome of the tribunal and, while there are some areas of the ruling it disagrees with, there will not be an appeal. We will now be reviewing the judgement in detail and working with Mr Russell to conclude the process. Scottish Rugby stands by its decision to change the leadership of the domestic rugby department given the fundamental importance this area of the sport plays in all aspects of game in Scotland.”

There has, however, been no word from any executives or elected representatives inside the SRU during the five days since Russell launched his astonishing broadside against the “toxic” culture he believes exists within Murrayfield.

Under fire chief executive Mark Dodson met with the Super 6 clubs on Wednesday and the tone on both sides was apparently positive. He flew out to Houston yesterday [Thursday] morning and will conduct a series of press briefings on Sunday.

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Meanwhile, there is still no sign of the “detailed document” the clubs were promised by Flockhart on 21st May, which will “explain again what Agenda 3 is and describe the benefits it will bring to clubs in terms of money and support from Scottish Rugby”.

The document was supposed to be issued in early June, but we are now at the halfway point in the month and none the wiser.

There is a growing concern that the document will not be issued until after the 28th June deadline for amendments to be made to AGM motions.

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About David Barnes 3906 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. This is why I left Sru 3 years ago. There is no doubt that a bullish attitude to pro rugby works well with sponsors and business but the sru have nothing but contempt for grass roots.The council is an issue. Many council reps are in it for themselves and they bring little by way of competence or ideas. But there are great club people there too and Dodson hates them. Time for change..the media man with only a passing aquintance with facts needs to go. Be wary of his heir…Dominic is no better.

  2. It’s always been pretty obvious that Dodson isn’t a nice guy (like a lot of Chief Execs) but I at least had thought he was good at his job and got things done. But now it seems like he’s going about things completely the wrong way – arrogant with no respect for the game, the grassroots and good people like Keith. We don’t need a tunnel-vision dictator with no class bullying salt of the earth employees. Shame on him. Sack him.

  3. Tonight’s meeting would be a hard one for the Council. Keith Russell has shown – Dodson holds them in contempt, but, they are being expected to toe the party line: stick with the gospel of: “A disgruntled ex-employee letting off steam,” and stand firm. One or two – Monro and Littlefair for example, have to, they want to keep their snouts in the trough. One or two are on the way out and can act freely, while one or two more, having been on the wrong end of Dodson will surely seek a chance to get even. If Dodson survives, the councillors will have questions to answer at what is sure to be a fractious AGM.

  4. I am not surprised. Dodson may be an astute business man but he has all the characteristics of a bully and someone who does not tolerate people who will challenge the status quo. He promoted Scott Johnson who was an incompetent failure as Scotland’s coach, to the position of Director of Scottish Rugby. I challenged Dodson on this while at coach at Shannon Airport following Glasgow’s loss to Connaught two years ago. I accused him of being complicit in condoning and promoting incompetence. This was after I had sent him numerous emails asking him to rationalise this appointment and the specific goals expected from Johnson. He failed to respond. I know that this is par for the course for him and his failure to accept accountability for poor performance. It’s obvious he has a bullying temperament and in Johnson he has an acolyte to cosy up to him. Johnson’s track record is one of disruption and failure and we are lumbered with him in an overpaid position and not subject to consequences. This is all symptomatic of a fractured and dysfunctional culture within the SRU and this latest episode comes as no surprise. P.s. Dodson is the man who,in trying to deflect criticism of Johnson’s promotion, came out public and stated Johnson was the greatest coach in world rugby and that under his leadership we would win the last World Cup. Murray field is truly Walter Mitty land only with a toxic leadership culture.

    • Could not agree more. The Chief Executive’s actions in the Keith Russell affair amounts to serious misconduct in any business setting and disciplinary action should follow. Can we be confident that the Council will ‘grasp the nettle’? Nae chance!! He is also in the process of ruining domestic rugby and he should be told to stop before more damage is done. Independent investigation is necessary.

  5. Goodness me, what a mess. Rob Flockhart was there throughout, fully aware of what was going on, he’s hardly the person to sort it out.

  6. I’m more curious on which elements of the ruling they disagree with.

    The unfair dismissal one?
    The riding roughshod over the SRU employment procedures?
    The disagraceful way to treat any employee?
    Not fulfilling the values of Scottish Rugby?

  7. You get the feeling that there will be a circling of caravans on this one. We take on board the findings and will seek to make improvements blah blah blah

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