The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has today announced a major organisational restructure following the arrival of John Steele as Chief Executive in September 2010.

The changes, unanimously approved by the RFU Board of Directors, will, they hope, create a new streamlined executive leadership with more emphasis on delivering rugby at all levels and will simplify the organisational structure and way of working.

Rob Andrew’s current job as Elite Rugby Director is scrapped, a position which he has held since August 2006, and the whole elite department revamped. A new, single, rugby department will be created which will be divided into three areas – Performance, Operations and Development – with new director roles created in each area reporting directly to the CEO. All rugby elements of the business will be integrated within the new rugby department to deliver clearer purpose and accountability, which will in turn improve the quality of experience from the top to the bottom of the game in England.

Rob Andrew will stay in his job inititally, but will be invited to apply for the job as Operations Director.

It is the Performance Director’s role, which will look after the England team (and mean Martin Johnson will have a new boss) that will cause the most speculation. But as BBC reports Sir Clive Woodward will not apply for this post.

Eddie Jones and Jake White have already expressed an interest in the new job.

In addition, two other new roles will be created with enhanced responsibilities. A Chief Commercial Officer role responsible for all of the revenue generating elements of the business and an enhanced Chief Financial Officer role encompassing all the corporate support services. All the new roles will be advertised from next week and will be subject to an open recruitment process. It is expected that internal and external candidates will apply.

Also as part of the reorganisation a number of RFU executives have left the business with immediate effect as their roles no longer exist within the new structure. Andrew Scoular, Nick Bunting, Terry Burwell, Richard Prescott and Ian King depart from their roles as Community Rugby Director, Head of Planning, Funding and Resources, Tournaments and Competitions Director, Elite Team Media Director and Head of HR.

Martyn Thomas, Chairman of the RFU Board of Directors, commented: “When we hired John we said we were confident he had the vision and the drive to ensure we could take the RFU to the next phase of its growth and today he has proved that was true. His initial recommendations, which we were unanimous in approving, were based on deep insight and clear evidence and John has our total support. The changes we are making signal a changing of the guard and the new refreshed leadership team will give the RFU new impetus and a clearer strategic direction not just at the Elite end of the game but across the whole game. We will emerge from the next few months a stronger, more effective union and John is to be applauded for taking the tough decisions needed to get there and for delivering the changes in a way that is cost neutral to the business.”

John Steele added. “I have spent the last few months gathering insight and views on how the RFU could better serve the game. I have toured England talking to staff, clubs, players, sponsors and any other rugby stakeholders I could spend time with to find out what we were good at and where we could improve. What became clear is that while we had a sound commercial platform, we did not have enough focus on the quality of the rugby experience across the game. So the new structure puts rugby right at the centre of the business and seeks to create more rugby expertise to benefit all levels of the game.

“The next five years will be some of the most exciting in the RFU’s history and I wanted to make sure we are in the right shape as an organisation to seize the opportunities in front of us. These new executive roles are a huge opportunity to ensure that we have the brightest and the best people leading the business moving forward.”

RFU Statement on Rob Andrew’s role:

Over and above its statement on the overall impact of the organisational changes announced today, the Rugby Football Union wanted, given the widespread media speculation over the past week, to clarify the situation regarding the new Rugby Department and Rob Andrew’s role.

When John Steele arrived at the RFU as CEO he made it clear that he would put rugby at the heart of the business and the creation of a new, single, rugby department delivers on that commitment. This is a significant shift and each of the three new directors will play a major role in ensuring the future growth and development of the game in England from the grassroots to the top of the professional game.

John Steele, CEO of the RFU, commented, “Today’s announcement is all about looking forward not back and ensuring that we have the best people in place to serve and lead rugby in England as we prepare for a home world cup in 2015. In view of this we are placing huge emphasis on developing the leadership and vision for the new rugby department. The three senior appointments in the rugby area are hugely important to the future of the game. We have invited Rob to apply for the Rugby Operations Director role which is a game wide role responsible for creating the rugby infrastructure required to make rugby work across England.”

However it is important to note that the development of this new structure will take six to nine months to put in place and in the interim those applying for roles will stay in their current position while the recruitment process happens and the transitions take place. This means that Rob Andrew will continue with his current responsibilities until the process is complete.

Rob Andrew added, ‘I am very excited about the future of the game in England, and the re-structuring that will place rugby at the heart of everything the RFU does. Change is never easy but there are some exciting opportunities and challenges ahead. I will be considering the role of Rugby Operations Director in the coming weeks and in the meantime will continue with my responsibilities as Elite Rugby Director.’

The recruitment process will start next week.