RFUThe Rugby Football Union (RFU) Board of Directors can confirm that John Steele has left the Union with immediate effect.

Current RFU chairman and now acting Chief Executive Martyn Thomas said: “The board felt things weren’t going in the direction they wanted. There was a vote and it was unanimous. There were no dissenting voices.

“We had a responsibility to do what we believe was right for the union.

“The performance director obviously proved a problem. There were issues in terms of candidates coming in. There were procedures the board felt were not right.

“On Thursday night we got a lot of detail we didn’t previously have and that is why we reached the decision.

“The board members took soundings. It would be wrong of me to go into the information we received from some members of staff, from stakeholders and people within the game.

“There were some issues that we needed to look at and looked into them.

“All I can say is that there were 10 guys there and they delved into this very deeply and all of us concluded it would be best if the union and John parted company.

“We would put rugby at the heart of the union, supported by a commercial office and financial officer with it all underpinned by the World Cup in 2015. The board back that unanimously,” said Thomas.

“It is not my intention to dismantle what John has done.

“I have spoken to all the appointments we made. They all assured me of their support for the union. They are all committed to work for the RFU.”