Baron targets return to 'core values'
August 26, 2009
Harlequins' banned winger Tom Williams revealed in his testimony that he was under immense pressure to protect the club © Getty Images
Rugby Football Union chief executive Francis Baron is determined to repair the reputation of the sport after a succession of damaging scandals.
Baron announced earlier this week that English Rugby's governing body were in the process of forming a "game-wide task force" and promised today that "no stone would be left unturned" in the attempt to re-establish the sport's "core values".
The headline-grabbing 'Bloodgate' saga rumbles on while the sport is also still reeling from a spate of drug-related incidents and as a result Baron is determined to reassure disillusioned supporters. The identity of the RFU's specially assembled task force is set to be unveiled on Friday and they will then begin an urgent review of all issues associated with recent events.
"It has been an immensely disappointing summer. The incidents that have happened have done damage to the game and its image," said Baron. "Judging by my mailbox, supporters are very disappointed with what's happened.
"Support for the game remains strong but fans don't like what has happened and expect something to be done about it. That is what we are doing and there will be no stone left unturned throughout the process.
"I'm setting up a heavyweight group of people. These are people covering different aspects of the game, experienced and very senior people. Everyone I've talked to feels the same way - we have got to re-establish in everybody's mind what the core values of our game are.
"Those values have made rugby union different and are things that our sponsors, TV partners and spectators buy into. If there has been slippage in some areas, and clearly there has been, we must make sure everybody is clear what those values are.
"If we have to change rules and regulations we will. We're determined to get this issue addressed and to do it quickly. We don't want to see any more incidents of this kind and the objective will be to ensure there will be no repetition.
"Everyone will be made aware of what the standards are. It's our job as the governing body to make sure these things don't happen again."
Baron promised the RFU's attempt to restore credibility would not be conducted behind closed doors.
"Transparency and speed of action are important - you can't allow these things to drift on," he said. "It all starts with transparency and then you have to address the issues, and you do that efficiently, quickly and effectively."
Baron was speaking at today's launch of the Championship, the revamped competition that was formerly National Division One.
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup
The reopening of the openside debate, a dominant wolf-pack and a sublime performance in defeat - Monday Maul looks at the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship alongside the best photographs from around the domestic game