RFU to review exit of former chief executive John Steele

Judge Jeff Blackett will chair a five-strong panel to review the hiring and exit of former Rugby Football Union (RFU) chief executive John Steele.

Steele took charge of the RFU last autumn but lost the confidence of the RFU board following his handling of the search for a new performance director.

The former chief executive was relieved of his duties last Friday.

Following his departure, the RFU asked Blackett, their chief disciplinary officer, to review the issue.

RFU council members Geraint Ashton Jones and Malcolm Wharton will be joined by two independent figures, Andy Reed, MP for Loughborough, and Vic Luck, formerly general manager of IBM UK.

The panel will investigate everything from the recruitment of Steele to the loss of confidence in his leadership and the process leading to the termination of his contract.

They will also look at the flawed recruitment process for the performance director position, which played such a key part in Steele's demise, and whether the board's governance could have been better.

"It is vital for the reputation of the RFU that we move quickly and decisively on this and that we are able to carry out an open and transparent review of the events of the last few months," said Judge Blackett, who will report the panel's finding at the RFU's next board meeting on 10 July.

"Only when we know what happened can we ensure that lessons are learnt for the future good governance of the RFU."

Blackett has also asked Steele's lawyers if the members of the board may disclose the reason for their decision to the panel as the terms of Steele's departure are currently covered by a confidentiality clause.