Disciplinary officer Jeff Blackett will not quit RFU

Rugby Football Union
The RFU has lost its chief executive and chairman during the last five weeks

Jeff Blackett has said that he will not resign as the disciplinary officer of the Rugby Football Union (RFU).

Martyn Thomas quit as chairman on Sunday after being criticised in Judge Blackett's review of the administrative crisis engulfing Twickenham.

The RFU's refusal to allow the publication of Blackett's findings left him reconsidering his position.

But, said Blackett, "hundreds urged me not to resign [and] to remain to help to improve the governance of the RFU".

He added that he did not appreciate the manner in which the situation had been handled.

"We hoped that council would accept the report and discuss the recommendations," continued Blackett's statement.

"The report contains some criticism of the former chairman of the RFU, the board and some of the governance of the union.

"We were particularly very disappointed about the amount of leaking of confidential information which caused significant reputational damage to the union.

"The recommendations were designed to restore confidence in the union, to begin to rebuild its tarnished reputation and to start a process to improve our governance.

"Whether or not the report is published is now a matter for them [council] and not me because they have taken ownership of it.

"My panel and I were disappointed by council's decisions and I indicated that I would have to consider my position."

Blackett added that the acting chairman of the RFU, Paul Murphy, would ensure that the issues highlighted in the 52-page report would be addressed.

Thomas remains acting chief executive until a permanent appointment is made and the rest of the management board will also stay put after a vote of no confidence was reportedly defeated by a majority verdict.

Oxfordshire RFU council member Murphy is to serve as interim chairman pending a special general meeting, when Thomas's permanent replacement will be decided.

The departure of Thomas follows that of chief executive John Steele, who was ousted in June.

The special general meeting, however, can not take place for at least 60 days, meaning that the RFU will be without a chairman when the World Cup in New Zealand starts in less than nine weeks' time.

It raises the possibility of potential embarrassment for the RFU if no fixed chairman is in place when the World Cup is handed over to England as the host nation for the 2015 tournament.

Meanwhile, the search continues for an elite performance director, the handling of which was said to have been a key factor in the board's loss of confidence over Steele's position as chief executive.

Former England coach Sir Clive Woodward, who had been tipped to become the RFU's elite performance director before opting to remain in his current post as deputy chef de mission for London 2012 with the British Olympic Association, has urged his former employers to act swiftly.

"You hope for the sake of rugby they have to move on quickly," he said. "Thankfully there is a Rugby World Cup coming up so people can focus on matters on the pitch.

"There are a lot of good people at Twickenham and I'm sure they will get it sorted out."

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