AGM motions put SRU executive and Agenda 3 under the microscope

Four candidates throw their hat into the ring for Vice-Presidency

The SRU's 2018 AGM on 4th August promises to be a lively affair ***Image: Fotosport/David Gibson

THE progress of the Agenda 3 project, which aims to revolutionise the club game in Scotland, will come under scrutiny at the SRU’s AGM on 4th August through two motions which seek to assert the rights of the clubs to determine how their own league structure will look and operate.

The first motion deals implicitly with the SRU executive’s plans to incorporate the 2nd XVs of Super 6 clubs into National League One.

The motion, submitted by Haddington RFC, calls for it to be stated in the Union’s bye-laws that any change in format to national club competitions can only be made “following prior consultation with and subsequent approval from the Clubs at an AGM or SGM”.

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The rationale provided for this motion states that –

“Ever since the introduction of Scottish Rugby’s National League in 1973 the clubs have had the right to determine the format of their competitions. Proposed major changes were approved or otherwise at Scottish Rugby’s annual general meeting. The change to the Championship Leagues in 2013 was a recent example of a major change in the league format being approved at an annual general meeting.

“The clubs’ right to determine the format of their competitions has not so far been defined in writing. However, that right is historic: this Motion for the avoidance of doubt seeks to enshrine that right in the Bye-laws.”

The second motion, which has been submitted by Aberdeen Grammar, calls for a debate at the AGM on the following three specific issues related to the Agenda 3 proposal –

1.   The placement of the Super 6 Amateur teams with the proposed league structure, including a moratorium on any Super 6 Amateur Team being promoted or placed into the new Championship.

2.   The definition of ‘Amateur’ player, in respect to the leagues below the Super 6, being clearly defined with due consideration to particular leagues and geographical locations of clubs. This should consider but not be restricted to:

i.     Tiered Approach to expenditure limits on players
ii.    Marque players [sic]
iii.   Wholly Amateur status for clubs out-with the highest tiers of non-Super 6 Clubs.

3.   Season Structure / League Structure – to determine number of leagues, size of leagues being dependent on placement of Super 6 Amateur sides.

The rationale provided for this motion explains that –

“The clubs wish to debate in an open forum Agenda 3 and seek a route to consider its implications both positive and negative. They would seek to conclude this debate by clubs agreeing to return in writing of the Scottish Rugby Union, by the end of October 2018, a completed questionnaire that will determine the results of the above debate, forum debates and provide accurate data on which to move forward with Agenda 3 for the commencement of Season 2018/19. This process, including the construction of said questions, should be overseen by the Council Standing Committee on Governance led by independent Chairman Gavin MacColl QC.”

If this motion is carried, a full 12 months after the Agenda 3 programme was first unveiled at the 2017 AGM, it would be a damning indictment of Murrayfield’s failure to engage with its core constituency on an issue which is fundamental to that constituency’s future survival.

Keith Wallace is secretary of Haddington RFC and author of the first motion.

“For clarity, no-one is opposing Super 6, that is a matter for the SRU and the six successful franchisees, just the impacts,” he said. “I am delighted that the level of support I had for an SGM to debate Agenda 3, which fell just short of the 24 clubs needed, has translated into support for these two AGM motions.

“Agenda 3 is Scottish Rugby’s Brexit, albeit at least we voted on Brexit. The two motions, if supported at the AGM, will ensure that we have a proper debate on the impacts of Agenda 3 – notably where the 2nd XVs of the Super 6 franchises play and the definition of amateurism – which is important since repeated requests for impact assessments have yielded nothing. They will also ensure that in future there will be a proper debate with clubs on such matters, and a clear who will have the right to determine them.

“I would also expect the submission of these Motions will ensure that the promised paper on Agenda 3, the first bit of additional information since last year’s AGM, which was conveniently delayed until after the deadline of this year’s AGM motion proposals, will indeed be forthcoming before the AGM.

“I cannot comment on how the Super 6 winners will react to this but given that I understand the contracts are yet to be signed, it would be a bold move to sign before the AGM.”

Both motions were received by SRU General Counsel Robert Howat yesterday, which was cut-off day for submissions. They will be officially published on 14th June, and the deadline for amendments is the 28th June.

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Vice-presidency election also on the agenda

The AGM will also host a four-way election to become the next Vice President of the Union. The successful candidate will serve two years in the role from the summer of 2018 to the summer of 2020, before being elevated to the position of President for the subsequent two years.

The candidates are –

Jim Littlefair – Currently Edinburgh Regional Representative on the SRU Council. A past president of North Berwick RFC and a director of the Hearts and Balls Charitable Trust. He played for Stewart’s Melville FP from 1972-84. He was elected as one of the Scottish Rugby Council’s representatives on the Scottish Rugby Board in 2015 and is also a Trustee of the Murrayfield Injured Players Foundation.

Mike Munro – Currently North Regional Representative on the SRU Council. A member of Aberdeenshire RFC since 1971, serving as secretary and president of the club. Refereed for a number of years after retiring from playing.  A former pupil of Robert Gordon’s College, attended Aberdeen University obtaining a degree in Law in 1974. Serves as a Trustee on the Murrayfield Centenary Fund and as a non-executive Director on the Scottish Rugby Board.

Graham Low – Former Gala and Border League president. A retired police inspector.

Ian Barr – Former player, captain, coach and, for 15-years, president of Lasswade RFC. He was an SRU Council representative for five years and latterly a member of the organisation’s Governance Working Party before resigning ‘out of principle’ from both positions on the eve of last year’s AGM. Was an unsuccessful vice-presidential candidate standing against Rob Flockhart in 2014 and Dee Bradbury in 2016. Has run the family farming and sports ground maintenance business for 25 years

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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.

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