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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 December 2006, 12:45 GMT
Andrew set for seat on RFU board
By Simon Austin

England's director of elite rugby Rob Andrew
Andrew will report on England's coaching situation on Thursday
Rob Andrew is set to be formally given a seat at the RFU's top table to help resurrect England's flagging fortunes.

Andrew is responsible for all aspects of English representative rugby as elite director but does not have a place on the RFU's management board.

"Everyone is agreed that Rob is in charge of elite rugby, lock, stock and barrel," Rugby Football Union chairman Martyn Thomas told BBC Sport.

"I intend to seek approval to make him a full-time member of the board."

Thomas said Andrew had actually been to the last two management board meetings and would be invited to future meetings, irrespective of whether he had a formal place.

Andrew was appointed to his role in August with a remit to oversee the elite side of English rugby, from the regional acadamies through to the senior Test side.

TIMETABLE FOR REPLACING ROBINSON
7 Dec: Andrew to share thoughts with Club England
20 Dec: Andrew/ Club England recommendations go to RFU management board
9 Feb 2007: RFU Council decides whether to ratify recommendations

The former Newcastle boss has a wide-ranging remit which includes sitting on the selection panel for the senior side and trying to broker a deal with the clubs over player availability.

But the former England fly-half's absence from the RFU's management board has led to questions over whether he had the authority to make changes.

Andrew will share his thoughts on how best to replace head coach Andy Robinson at a meeting of the Club England committee on Thursday.

The recommendations of the 13-man committee, which deals with matters relating to elite rugby, will then be put to the management board at a meeting on 20 December, although Thomas emphasised that an earlier meeting could be scheduled if necessary.

Despite the discussions about how to replace Robinson, top of the agenda for Thursday's meeting will be for Club England to be beefed up to become a decision-making body rather than a recommendation-giving group.

Last week Simon Halliday, a key member of the committee, said: "In future, Club England should make decisions, not as happens at the moment making recommendations to the management board.

"And that is going to be on the Club England agenda when we meet on 7 December. In order for us to be able to deliver on the England front, we do need a separation."

It would be a foolish management board that did not accede to a request from Rob Andrew

Martyn Thomas
Chairman of RFU management board

But Thomas told BBC Sport it was still important for the management board to act as a "check and balance" to the recommendations of Club England.

"In any organisation you're going to have to have the accountants, lawyers and non-executives ratifying decisions as a check and balance," he said.

"But it would be a foolish management board that did not accede to a request from Rob Andrew."

The news has been welcomed by the Professional Rugby Players' Association.

"This is a significant step forward and is fitting given that this is the body that dictates policy regarding elite professional rugby in England," said PRA chief executive Damian Hopley.

"The PRA now looks forward to getting representation on the management board so that it is truly representative of all the stakeholders in the game."

In a separate move, the RFU has employed a firm of management consultants to help draw up a blueprint for changes to how the English professional game is run.

They have been working on the project since the summer and were taken on after the failure of the RFU to negotiate a lasting agreement with the Premiership clubs over the management of elite players.

The consultants will compile a report and the recommendations are due to be considered by the management board on 20 December.



SEE ALSO
RFU boss Baron rejects quit calls
30 Nov 06 |  Rugby Union
England's era of decline
29 Nov 06 |  English
England 'must wait for new coach'
30 Nov 06 |  Rugby Union
Andrew accepts top England role
18 Aug 06 |  English


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