RFU risks fresh ridicule

2011-11-22 16:37

London - England's governing Rugby Football Union (RFU) exposed itself to fresh criticism with the publication of an annual report where chairman Paul Murphy insisted the beleaguered body was at "the top of its game".

This year has seen England lose manager Martin Johnson, after a World Cup where the team made more headlines with their off-field drinking exploits than by anything they did on the pitch, and the RFU chief executive in a botched attempt to appoint a new performance director - a post still to be filled.

However, the commercial side of their operation saw the RFU post a record 8.7 million profit for their last business year - a figure bolstered by Twickenham's staging of four autumn internationals and three Six Nations ties.

"It is clear that the union and its staff have been operating at the top of their game," RFU chairman Murphy wrote in the annual report.

But with just two months to find a successor to Johnson before the Six Nations starts and director of elite rugby Rob Andrew facing renewed scrutiny for his refusal to step down despite presiding over the fall of three England coaches, Murphy's words are unlikely to resonate beyond Twickenham.

And there are fears the RFU are unlikely to match their latest figures in the next financial year which will include the 2011-12 season, one without any autumn internationals because of the World Cup.

Murphy's words were too much for the normally staid Daily Telegraph newspaper, which pondered how the RFU chairman might have responded to a series of celebrated disasters.

It had Murphy saying of the sinking of The Titanic: "The ship ultimately endured serious flotation-related issues, but performance was exceptional for several hours.

"We also had very positive feedback from passengers when it came to providing the ice cubes for their gin and tonics."