RPA calls for publication of report findings
April 19, 2012
The majority of England's coaches came in for criticism in the leaked reports © Getty Images
The Rugby Players' Association has called on the Rugby Football Union to publish their review into the leaking of the confidential reports into England's infamous World Cup campaign.
The RPA's chief executive Damian Hopley is frustrated that "no-one has been brought to book" over the damaging leaks and he called on the RFU's new chief executive, Ian Ritchie, to ensure the issue is not swept under the carpet. Monitor Quest, the strategic intelligence company, were brought in by Twickenham officials to conduct the investigation after reports compiled by the Rugby Players' Association, the RFU and the Premiership clubs were published by The Times newspaper.
The damning reports laid bare the reasons behind England's "doomed" World Cup campaign, with some of national team's senior players accused of being more motivated by money than success. The RPA report, described by Hopley as "a powderkeg", contained player feedback stating Martin Johnson's management team were out of their depth and painting the picture of a disunited squad, riven by a lack of trust and competing agendas.
According to Hopley, 24 of the 25 individuals who had access to the reports have been interviewed by Monitor Quest but one person has refused to co-operate. Hopley believes the identity of that individual is contained within the final report.
The RFU have so far refused to publish the Monitor Quest findings and they have also refused to share with the RPA an internal report compiled by the union's disciplinary chief, Judge Jeff Blackett. The RPA are investigating whether they can make a freedom of information request for release of the final Monitor Quest report.
Hopley will deliver his appeal directly to the RFU tomorrow when he addresses a scheduled council meeting at Twickenham. "I described it at the time and I still maintain it was the darkest day for the organisation (RPA) and for English rugby, to see confidential information leaked over the press," Hopley said. "There is a responsibility for the game to actually understand what went on and for the facts to come out.
"The Monitor Quest report has not been made public, we believe it should be made public. There were 25 people who had access to the report via the 12 people on the Professional Game Board and their secretaries. One person has not been interviewed.
Damian Hopley has called on the RFU to publish their findings © PA Photos
"We would like that person to come forward and be interviewed. That (the person's identity) is within the report and we think if the report was made public it would go a long way to resolving that problem.
"We would also like full acknowledgement that everyone who co-operated fully and had no evidence found against them should also have their names made public. We do not point the finger at the new executive (of the RFU) because we know they weren't involved, we just feel there should be some leadership here. We feel let down by the process.
"Our frustration is the lack of accountability. There has to be accountability. We have to be accountable to every one of our 624 members. If we do something wrong I know full well I will be marched out of the office tomorrow.
"We are looking for a final outcome of this. Whether that means nothing will be done but the report will be published is a step forward from our point of view. But just to let it fade into the background is not acceptable."
Hopley suspects the RFU will not publish the Monitor Quest report because of potential "legal ramifications". The RFU told him Blackett's report was for their board's eyes only.
"We think that is a backwards step," Hopley said. "I can't stress enough how good our industrial relations are with the clubs and the RFU. I think it is the envy of other sports. "We would like to have seen the disciplinary officer's report to see if it differed from Monitor Quest and what conclusions were drawn from it."
Chief among Hopley's concerns is the long-term damage that has been done to the RPA's relationship with the players, who provided the feedback anonymously. The RPA had conducted one-on-one interviews with the majority of the England squad to allay fears their feedback would be seen directly by the coaching staff.
"We as an organisation hold integrity as one of our absolute values and the trust of our players is paramount," Hopley said. "We wanted every stone to be turned over two or three times and the concern for us going forward is how can we ask our players to co-operate in confidential reviews if this is how they end up.
"We felt the trust of the players was damaged considerably."
An RFU spokesman said the findings of the Monitor Quest investigation were inconclusive and had been shared with the RPA and Premiership Rugby. But he said the report had not been published because it was confidential.
"The Monitor Quest report is a confidential document which was delivered to the RFU board of directors and while it is not for publication it has, of course, been shared in full with the PGB, the RPA and Premiership Rugby," the RFU spokesman said.
"It was produced by a highly reputable organisation and while its findings were inconclusive, in that no specific individual was identified as responsible for the leaks, it did make important recommendations about document control and information security which we are determined to learn from."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in a fiery East Midlands derby and all the action from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton