Thomas leaves with parting shot
November 3, 2011
Thomas will part company with the RFU and Rugby World Cup organisers England 2015 next month © Getty Images
Martyn Thomas aimed a parting shot at his critics at the end of a turbulent day that signalled the end of his tenure at the Rugby Football Union (RFU).
Thomas bowed to growing pressure by declaring his intention to step down from his post as acting chief executive at the end of his current contract next month following a meeting of the RFU's board of directors at Twickenham on Wednesday.
His position has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months in the wake of the firing of former chief executive John Steele in June following a botched attempt to recruit a performance director. Stephen Brown, the union's chief financial officer, will take over from Thomas as acting chief executive next month until a full-time appointment is made.
The 67-year-old, who has been on the RFU board for six years, will also vacate his chairmanship of Rugby World Cup organisers England Rugby 2015 as well as his places on the IRB Council, the Six Nations Committee and his directorship of European Rugby Cup Ltd.
A relieved looking Thomas put on a brace face for the cameras after announcing his decision and expressed a wish to return to his farm in Wales. "I'm 67, I have a nice farm in Wales, I breed Pedigree Welsh Black cattle and I want to get back to them because they just don't kick me this way," he told Sky Sports News.
"My contract was up on the 16th of December and I had no desire to renew it," he added. "There's a lot going on. I'm concerned about the staff and am delighted that Steve Brown, who I was responsible for appointing, along with John Steele, will just take over. The new CEO will be announced in early December and Steve will carry on what I've done."
Thomas' decision is the latest step in a tumultuous sequence of events for the RFU following Steele's exit after just nine months in his post. Judge Jeff Blackett, the RFU's disciplinary officer, was asked to produce a report on Steele's sacking and his findings were highly critical of Thomas, who threatened Blackett with legal action if the report were to be published.
Thomas had previously survived two votes of no confidence from members of the RFU council and had stepped down from his position of chairman, which has since been filled by Paul Murphy. Reports prior to Wednesday's meeting had suggested that more than 100 of the RFU's member clubs had called for Thomas to be removed in a letter to Murphy, threatening to do so via the means of a Special General Meeting if the board would not act.
The Thomas-commissioned review into England's failed Rugby World Cup campaign that former RFU stalwart Fran Cotton was to head up was also a casualty and instead the RFU will hold an independent review once the Professional Game Board, which represents senior clubs and players, completes its own assessment.
"The PGB [Professional Game Board] review and the Rob Andrew review are still going ahead and I hope the Fran Cotton review, or some external review will go ahead," he said. "We had a really bad World Cup, we had a problem with a few players, the majority of the squad are really good. I'm disappointed they let Martin [Johnson] down and those few let England down."
Pressed as to whether Johnson was the right man to spearhead England in the wake of their troubled World Cup campaign, Thomas added: "It's not up to me, Martin's got to make his own decision on that. I think he had a really rough time in New Zealand and he's gathering his thoughts."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
In the blink of an eye, a winger can go from a hero to villain. Hugh Godwin talks to Zac Guildford and David Strettle about life on the flank
Munster, No.8s, the imploding Australians, wonderful Glasgow and Lancaster's dilemma - it is Monday Maul time
As Ewen McKenzie exits stage left, the ARU remains under huge pressure, with CEO Bill Pulver feeling the brunt of Australian rugby's displeasure, Greg Growden writes
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the remarkable events in Brisbane and the first round of the European Rugby Champions Cup