Scottish Rugby today approved in the main its business plan for the next four years.

Two working parties are to be set-up, one to nail down who governs Scottish Rugby and the other to determine the future league and cup structure.  The governance working party meets tomorrow.

That was decided at today’s 4¾ hours special general meeting at Murrayfield when clubs voted unanimously in favour of an amendment from Heriot’s that, subject to ongoing consultation, Scottish Rugby should be governed through an Executive Board, accountable to clubs via a new Scottish Rugby Council.

SRU President Gordon Dixon announced the composition of the working party.  It will have an independent chairman, Sheriff Bill Dunlop and nine other members.

Bill Dunlop, 60, operates in North Strathclyde sheriffdom and is based in Paisley.  He is an ERC match commissioner, a Six Nations Championship citing commissioner, independent chairman of Scottish Rugby’s championship appeals committee and independent member of Scottish Rugby’s discipline appeals panel.

He played as a wing with Glasgow High School FP and Glasgow District and was selected for the combined Glasgow/Edinburgh side against the touring Australians in 1966.  He has also undertaken coaching and administrative duties in club rugby and is a past president of GHK.

Other members of the working party are Scottish Rugby non-executive directors, Peter Brown and Allan Munro; representing the clubs are the Heriot’s president and former international back-row forward, Jock Millican and former Greenock Wanderers past-president and erstwhile UK marketing director of Whyte and Mackay, Charles Shaw; from the current SRU general committee senior vice-president George Blackie and Glasgow District Representative Archie Ferguson; from Scottish Rugby’s Executive, interim chairman and chief executive Fred McLeod and corporate affairs director Mike Keohane; and, as an independent, the 27-times-capped centre, former international coach and current commercial property partner in Burness solicitors, David Johnston.

During the discussion on governance there was criticism from West of Scotland, Lismore and London Scottish about the events of the last three weeks – which started by the general committee passing a vote of no confidence in former chairman David Mackay.

Lismore’s amendment, seconded by Berwick and Edinburgh Accies, to create a new regional development structure as a major initiative to have more youngsters playing rugby  was approved by 129 votes to 49.

Much of the meeting was taken up by debate on the structure and timing of league and cup competitions.

Dundee HSFP’s amendment that there should be no change to the format of club league and cup competitions for next season and that a working party to look at all the issues surrounding league and cup competition be formed and report to this year’s AGM was approved by 116 votes to 115.

Dundee did add the rider that should consensus be reached on regionalisation of the leagues and should there be a desire from clubs to pursue that route for next season then that could still be approved at the 2005 AGM.

Clubs also endorsed an amendment from Moray and Linlithgow that club league and cup matches should not be played on a Sunday unless both clubs agree.

In the light of the decision to set up a working party clubs asked the general committee to withdraw a motion on restructuring the league and cup competitions.  The General Committee agreed to that request and interim Executive Board chairman Fred McLeod also pledged that both the Executive Board and General Committee would investigate further the prospect of cross-border competition with the Premier Division One clubs (the subject of an amendment from Boroughmuir and RHC).

Key planks of the strategic plan on the development of the game in Scotland were also endorsed by the meeting.

The introduction of a new, fully integrated performance pathway for players through the Scottish Institute of Sport and coaches and referees through the appropriate channels was approved.

So was the decision to invite private investment in Scottish Rugby’s professional teams via franchises.  Interim chairman Fred McLeod encouraged the meeting to allow the Executive Board to continue for a further year with three professional teams while the search for investors continues.

Clubs agreed with an amendment from Moray, Stewartry and Linlithgow that the proposed individual player and club affiliation fees be rejected.  They did however approve the setting up of a new Scottish Rugby Club Development Fund which will include funding by Scottish Rugby, sponsorship, local authority and other public contributions and private income.

The meeting concluded with President Gordon Dixon urging all involved in the game in Scotland to stop looking backwards and, instead, to move forward in a constructive manner.

For further information please contact

Graham Law

0131 346 5164