SRU issue update on Sir Bill Gammell governance review

Norman Murray, Chairman of Ballet Scotland, is assisting in looking into and making recommendations on all areas of the organisation

SRU Chief Executive Mark Dodson looks out over Murrayfield Stadium. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson

THE SCOTTISH RUGBY UNION has issued an update on the scope of the governance review it has commissioned Sir Bill Gammell to carry out, revealing that almost every area of the organisation will go under the microscope, including: the bye-laws; the role of the President and Vice-President; the roles, responsibilities and composition of the Council and the Board; and the roles, responsibilities and composition of the SRU Trust and SRU Trustees.

A review of governance was first endorsed by the SRU Board and Council last September, but it was not commissioned until just over a fortnight ago.

“With the global rugby landscape having evolved rapidly since then (and with the potential for third party investment into the game), the Council and Board now believe that an independent governance review has become time critical and requires to be sufficiently wide ranging so as to cover all areas of the Union’s governance, business and structures,” explained the update.

It is believed that Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill and Director of Domestic Rugby Sheila Begbie have already been interviewed as part of this review process.

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The update was issued a day after Sheriff Bill Dunlop, the architect of the current governance structure which has been in place since 2005, questioned the need for any review in an interview on this website, arguing that the current problems in the SRU relate to people not doing their jobs properly rather than any structural failing in the division of power and responsibility.

Dunlop also launched a blistering condemnation at the lack of transparency in the way Scottish Rugby is currently being run.

Elsewhere, Gammell’s suitability for this position has been questioned on the basis of his long standing relationship with SRU Chief Executive Mark Dodson and his role as the chairman of the Super 6 selection panel. While the update provided a résumé of the millionaire oil man’s rugby, business and philanthropic credentials, it did not address those concerns about whether he is too close to the Murrayfield machine to conduct a truly independent review.

The update did confirm that Gammell is being assisted in his review by Norman Murray FRSE, the current Chairman of Scottish Ballet, who previously served as Chairman of Gammell’s Cairn Energy PLC oil exploration and production company between May 2002 to July  2011. There was no mention of any other individuals or groups assisting Gammell.

“The Council and Board consider that Sir Bill Gammell and Norman Murray’s combined extensive and high-profile experience in business, corporate governance and sport related matters make them ideally placed to conduct this significant piece of work at this time,” said the statement.

Gammell will report back to the Council’s Standing Committee on Governance (chaired by Gavin MacColl QC) over the coming months. That Committee will then consider any recommendations arising, for onward submission to the Council and Board as appropriate.

Any change to the bye-laws of the Union – which provide the basis for the appointment, roles and responsibilities of the SRU President and Vice-President, the Council, the Board, and the Trustees (who hold all investments or property of the Union on behalf of the membership) – will require a two-thirds majority of those present and entitled to vote at a General Meeting of member clubs.

A previous attempt to ‘tidy-up’ the bye-laws (through a motion proposed by the President and the Chairman of the Board on behalf of the Council and the Board) was voted down at the 2017 Annual General Meeting.

Scope of Independent Corporate Governance and Business Review –

  • to review and consider the Scottish Rugby Union’s (the “Union’s”) existing governance structures, particularly in light of the potential for third party inward investment
  • to review and consider the roles, responsibilities and structural composition of the Scottish Rugby Union Limited (the “Company”), the Board of the Company (the “Board”) and the Non-Executive Directors of the Board
  • to review and consider the roles, responsibilities and structural composition of the Scottish Rugby Council (the “Council”) and Council members
  • to review and consider the Bye-Laws of the Union
  • to review and consider the Articles of Association of the Company
  • to review and consider the roles and responsibilities of the offices of Chairman of the Board, the President of the Union, and the Vice-President of the Union
  • to review and consider the roles, responsibilities and composition of the SRU Trust and SRU Trustees
  • to review and consider possible alternative corporate and governance structures for the Union
  • to consider such other matters related to the Union’s governance as both the Council and the Board may from time to time request
  • to consider and advise whether further information is necessary for or should be made available to the Review to assist it to carry out its functions, and to identify the nature of that information.

Exclusive: Sheriff Bill Dunlop questions SRU review of governance structures


About David Barnes 4026 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The 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. Pegj has the facts right as always.

    No explanation as to why the “partisan” (D Johnston’s fine description) MacColl is no longer doing the review, but now the “crony” Sir Bill is. The crony will report to the partisan.

    No use of the word “independent” in this latest release, just “ideally placed”

    Is this a euphemism for “they know what we want”?

  2. Are we going to get the various bits of this review piece by piece? Chair is announced then the next week we get another member added along with the scope.

    The SRUs view of what “independent” means could do with some refreshing. Though having set the precedent last year with Thomson’s “review” of the Russell affair we shouldn’t be surprised by these moves.

  3. At last years AGM, Members were informed that Gavin MacColl QC, independant Chair of the Standing Committee of Governance, had been asked to Chair the review on Governance – I presume he rejected this request.

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