The people have spoken: June 3rd to June 16th 2019

The Offside Line's readers have their say on the rugby stories which have really mattered to them during the last fortnight

Glasgow Warriors' managing director Nathan Bombrys helps launch the club's new badge. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

HERE is the latest instalment of our series chronicling the most interesting and thought-provoking feedback we have had on the stories covered by The Offside Line during the last two weeks.

We welcome submissions via Facebook, Twitter and comments at the foot of articles on the site. You can also email us at [email protected], but please make it clear that you consent to have your words published and attributed.

We welcome views on all aspects of the game – things you like and things you don’t like – as long as it is respectful and constructive. Valid criticism is fine, personal attacks will be deleted.


4th June: Glasgow Warriors chief Nathan Bombrys says new badge points to bright future

Glasgow Warriors unveiled their new badge, with managing director Nathan Bombrys using the occasion to give an insight into the club’s plans for the future. As ever, there was a mixed response.

Ian Johnstone:

If Nathan is not going to spend money on player then the 10% hike in season tickets should go on a second replay screen for the north stand supporters.

Sylvie Cambell:

In Relation to the bumph on this subject! One of the parameters was ”Respect the History”…….. I would like to know from Nathan where the history of Caledonian Reds has disappeared to? It is an insult to a region that supplies between 20% to 30% of the Warrior squad…….Low, Cusiter, Jackson, Hornes x2, Barclay, Russell…..a long list but never a nod to Caley!!

Robbie Alexander (via Twitter):

Replacing the North Stand & improving facilities would genuinely represent a “new era” – changing the logo and website is window dressing without it. Also glad to hear they’re focussed on Scottish qualified talent over overseas signings – been burned too often in recent years …


6th June: Is it time to embrace change and turn the Borders 7s circuit on its head?

Alan Lorimer discussed the challenges facing the Borders 7s circuit and looked at a few ways that the abbreviated game might be harnessed to the benefit all of Scottish rugby.

Dom Ward:

Very insightful piece, Alan. Just one comment. It’s not the SRU that insists on 12 team leagues. That’s the clubs. They need 11 home games seemingly.

Hopefully the season structure work the Development folks are doing will bring some solutions to this. One suggestion is league rugby done by end Dec/early Jan. Have cup competition then 7s/10s in March & April.

Edward Porter:

Just leave the 7vens as is

Aidan Taylor:

Sevens needs to change or die. Peebles moved theirs in 2016 and now Hawick. Instead of meaningless August friendlies have three sevens [tournaments] so guys get some game time. And bring back Walkerburn, who were discarded in favour of Berwick in 2002. Or make tournaments 10 teams and let the juniors like Langholm, Hawick Quins and Linden etc play in a modern SDU sevens?

Ian Anderson (via Twitter):

Very good peice and something should happen however getting change in the borders where it has ‘aye bein’ is almost impossible.

Alex Reid (via Facebook):

National 7s circuit for the king and queens of 7s, the road to Melrose, as the finale.

Neil Hinnigan (via Facebook):

When will this ever be sorted , which clubs will agree to stand down and lose vital income. I agree it’ desperately needs changed its dying a slow death atm. However it would need all to agree to a greater good for the whole country and that will be difficult , almost impossible. Needs some serous sponsorship as well that’s something that’s not there anymore.it needs built who s going to drive it 🤷🏻‍♂️ SRU not interested in the Kings of the 7s.

Stuart Cameron (via Facebook):

This same subject gets addressed every year and nothing changes and nothing will change as no one wants to be the bad guy upsetting other clubs who have their own interests at heart. You cannot blame clubs for protecting their own tournaments each year as they provide valuable income. Having said that, with teams pulling out due to 15s season encroaching it has ruined the K7s as we once knew it.

Personally, I would take the 8 top teams from the K7s table into a new 7s competition over four weekends. Two pools of four guaranteeing three games each for all. Winner of Pool A plays winner of Pool B in final with runners up from both pools playing for third place. Each event hosted by four clubs one year and the other four the next. Rolling subs, 12 man squads if possible.

K7s could still continue the way it has over the past few years but teams that want to compete at a higher level can do so. You can ring fence the competition for eight clubs serious about their 7s or you could have a second tier competition for those below those eight if there was an appetite for it. That would give an interesting one-up and onedown. More chance to attract sponsors too. K7s hasn’t changed and won’t change for the reasons mentioned but a more vibrant competition could be created with a shadow competition giving the smaller clubs an opportunity to play more rugby rather than going out in the first round against a seeded team, which is the way it works now. Wouldn’t these teams get more value and more rugby playing against teams of the same standard?

The alternative is to keep it the way it is, which is probably what will happen. But I don’t think it’s a crime to bring up new ideas to try and help everyone develop.

Fraser Harkness (via Facebook):

I personally think they should drop 4 tournaments down to junior tournaments like there always was. That way they keep their weekend but for 2nd team squads and junior clubs. That way the clubs dropping to 2nd teams 7s will still have an income . I also think 12 teams, 4 pools of 3, semi and a final is what has to happen. No point doing squads of 12 unless you can use all 12 every tie so rolling subs.

Gareth Brown (via Facebook):

The city 7s this weekend are showing the way forward


8th June: ‘Independent’ review of SRU governance announced

The SRU quietly announced that Sir Bill Gammell – former Scotland cap, millionaire businessman and a man closely linked to Murrayfield top-brass – is to lead a review of the organisation’s governance structures.  Surely they anticipated that this would open up a giant can of worms.

Dom Ward:

Interesting stuff. The clubs would do well to recall the causes of the A3 review, the behaviour of the ceo at several agms and the political machinations displayed during the SGM.

One can only hope that when this comes to a vote it’s not a Friday with an Edinburgh game at 7.30.

John Evans:

This appears to be a bit of a Fettes PTA carve up! Has anyone checked how Gavin McColl ever came to be so powerful? Surely, the shareholders should appoint the chair of the review?

Keith Wallace:

I am sure Mr Gammell will be every bit as independent as the man he is reporting to, Mr MacColl, was at the SGM!

We should not expect anything else: after all turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.

Cronyism without bounds.

Time for change.

James:

It’s amazing it took the RFU nine months to find someone who will produce a review in their favour. I thought it would take much longer!

Sack the whole lot and start again.

Paul Justice (via Facebook):

“Take account of the interests of all existing and future stakeholders”. Some might read this as – we’re expecting a big input of cash from CVC or some other venture capitalist, & what they want in return might not be compatible to what the Clubs want.

Don Blackie (via Facebook):

I think the SRU should have gone about the whole professional/ Semi-professional setup in a totally different way! However, that is the SRU role, taking the lead and they normally appear to have a absolute desire to micro-manage. Mr Gammell is the face of this process and unfortunately the fall guy to a skewed process in my opinion set by the guidelines similar to Mrs Mays Brexit where her redlines were her downfall. This process has effectively over centralised the game by default with their guidelines on who are financially fit to enter the Super 6 without any obvious consideration on how that would truly benefit the game in the country as a whole. The SRU have allowed Club/private entrepreneur money to drive the game a bit more which is good but this process has not built a pyramid structure that would truly reflect and attract and retain a player base over the whole country. I live In the Edinburgh area and live very close to three semi-professional teams and less than 40 miles from two other teams putting the obvious and unforgivable omission of the North, NE of Scotland and Glasgow areas which have a flourishing grass roots have no representation!!! How are you going to grow the game and support local talent without ripping them out of their community which further alienates potential support and interest in the game away from where there is a need to grow that support. Just an honest observation where we should have a semi-professional team representing every region within Scotland. The SRU are investing heavily in the super 6 that appears to be favouring the East central belt!


13th June: Analysis: Review of SRU governance structures must be truly independent

We took a closer look at the appointment of Gammell to spearhead the governance review, and highlighted why there must be major concerns about his ‘independence’.

Dom Ward:

This sitting on the fence won’t do you any good David!

Fully agree with your piece. The clubs haven’t been informed officially about this work, what it’s remit is, who will be involved in the working group, timelines and how clubs will be involved.

We seem to have learned nothing from the shambles of the last couple of years. The crucial governance issue is between the Executives, the Board & Council and the clubs. As we always hear, the clubs are the SRU.

Consider all the extra effort that has been expended to deal with Super 6 and Agenda 3. This would have been avoided if clubs were involved from the start. We are facing Groundhog Day again.

Bryce Weir:

I may be completely off the beam here but I get a gut feeling that “the SRU” view the members (the clubs) as feral cats whereby common consensus is an impossible aim & therefore determine strategies in isolation which they will impose with or without agreement of said members.

However, a sizeable number of these clubs seem to me to be in awe of the SRU &, like nodding dogs, fail to use their power to remind the SRU of the need to acknowledge their respective roles.

I would add that it may be that it is but further evidence of the failings creeping in to our democratic structures in all walks of life.

John Williamson:

If there is nothing to hide why do your utmost to avoid proper scrutiny?

You would have thought that they the would have learned from previous mistakes but apparently not? They still think they are right.

Of course, even following the decision and comments made by the Senior Tribunal Judge they did not recognise the organisation he was commenting on?? Blinkers on and ear protectors inserted once again!

Kenny Brown (via Twitter):

Gammell shouldn’t be anywhere near this. His decisions on Super 6 were against the original specifications and spirit of growing this tier of the game. Far too close to Dodson.

Bert Duffy (via Facebook):
Bring back the Bill Dunlop report which was truly INDEPENDENT

14th June: Opinion: ‘The faux contrition has been successful so they’ve been emboldened to try it again’

Former Scotland player and coach, David Johnstone, who was a member of the Dunlop panel which drew up the current SRU governance structure, did not not pull any punches in his column.

May Sinclair:

Excellent, well said but will it do any good? They seem to be a law unto themselves; and one, despite actions classed as illegal, seems to be above the law.

Dom Ward:

Brilliant article David. I was wondering if you would be driven to comment and you nicely articulate the gaping holes in the whole edifice of this “review”.

The initiation and announcement of the review nicely illustrates the famous Latin phrase “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes” who guards the guards (or watches the watchman).

The Council has turned into a complete irrelevance.

Paul Justice (via Facebook):

“Come on members of the Council. YOU set the objectives for the Board and Executive, NOT the other way around. They operate at your pleasure. ”

Alas, code of conduct will no doubt prevent any Council member from raising their head above the parapet when it comes to representing their ultimate stakeholders.

Bill Faulds (via Facebook):

Wow. Excellent piece David. Some shabby and shameless things being pushed through. I believe we get the politicians we deserve! Maybe we get the Council we deserve, or are we prepared to change it?

16th June: Long Read: Corporate governance – it’s all about the people!

Haddington president Keith Wallace also had his say, taking a deep dive into what corporate governance should be about, and assessing whether that is currently being delivered by the SRU.

Dom Ward:

Well articulated piece Keith and thanks for taking the time to write it.

The analysis is spot on. For me the values element trumps the others and if these are not being lived and practiced by all within the Council, Board, Executive and all who work in the SRU – then what is the point?

I would also call out the leadership role that the CEO, Chair and President have with these values. Alongside living and breathing them in everything they do, they are the guardians of these values and need to deal with any examples where they arent being demonstrated and be specific role models on how these values are lived.

As you point out, we have real examples of where those people have fallen far below what should be expected of them.

John Evans:

Excellent article from Keith. Charles Handy in ‘The Empty Raincoat ‘ talks about ‘Paddy’s Bridge’. When asked for directions the sage-like Paddy thinks and replies ‘ Ah! If I were you I wouldn’t be starting from here’! The governance of Scottish Rugby feels like that at the moment. The clubs need to be far more proactive and robust in determining what they want rather than simply saying ‘ I don’t like that..’. Time for the talking to stop and time for the clubs to put a clear plan on the table for the future of the game with defined structure, process and roles( people). It needs to be outcome focused not on individuals.

Dom Ward:

Interesting proposition, John. The challenge is to get the clubs aligned around that. That’s where the Exec and the Board manage to rule. The clubs don’t come together outside of SRU arranged fora to engage in this sort of discussion.

It will also require quite a bit of humility on all clubs that they solely are the holders of the “truth”.

John Williamson:

An excellent article from someone with the qualifications and experience to challenge those at the top. However, there are people in place who should carry out such a review? Clearly, they are unable, unwilling or take up such a position for some other reason? I’m sure many readers will be able to expand on that point. More to the point who scrutinises those in these positions?

Like many previous writings, this article continues to raise serious concerns over the workings of the Union! It should be easy for the SRU to act to quash such concerns but the findings of a Senior Tribunal Judge made that a very difficult task. Of course, although not appealing the Judge’s decision, the Union’s response was that they did not recognise the Judges description/findings??

The latest attempt to silence the base of the pyramid is almost destined to fail. Unless true independence is seen to be in place the outcome will only led to yet further unrest within the Union. No healing will take place however the salaries and pension pots of those at the top will continue to mount up.

Dom Ward:

Who can forget the last 5 Year Plan?

With its catchy “win a 6 Nations Grand Slam by 2016 and the World Cup”. Obviously I need to go check the records but pretty sure we didn’t achieve those particular goals.

More interestingly, try looking for this document on the SRU website. Or even using Google. Best I could get was a reference by John Beattie that he’d received a press release from the SRU on it.


Analysis: Review of SRU governance structures must be truly independent

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