Scottish Rugby’s 2021 AGM - Report

Scottish Rugby’s 2021 AGM - Report

Scottish Rugby’s annual general meeting reconvened in person with 118 voting delegates present in the President’s Suite at BT Murrayfield today, allowing for a quorate meeting.

The AGM had started digitally last month but was adjourned on the day and reconvened for today in order that delegates could meet face to face.

The club members heard from Scottish Rugby’s President, Ian Bar, Board Chairman, John Jeffrey, and Chief Executive Mark Dodson.

Speaking on the challenges of the pandemic Mark Dodson said: “The response to Covid 19 has been genuinely humbling and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our club officials, volunteers, administrators, people and players for their role in getting the nation back to rugby once more.

I urge everyone who cares about the game in Scotland to pull together and take advantage of the opportunities that stand before us.”

He concluded his speech with a positive outlook: “We are at a crucial point in the sport’s global development. We have delivered over £50m of external investment into Scottish Rugby. If we squander this unprecedented position, we will not be forgiven by future generations.

There is more to come if we work together, remain open to change and embrace the global future of our sport. We have never been better placed to cement the future of rugby in Scotland and around the world.”

All three praised clubs for their support and collaboration in achieving a restart to the game in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

There was also praise for the last-gasp victory of Scotland Women in their Rugby World Cup qualifying match against Ireland in Parma yesterday.

On the business of the meeting, delegates voted in favour of an amendment from the Scottish Rugby Council and Board by 72 votes to 46 after a motion was presented by GHA with regards to the FOSROC Super6 competition and an inter-district championship.

Therefore, the amended motion agreed was:

“That a modernised version of the Scottish Inter-District Championship (with the inclusion of a potential Scottish Exiles squad) be reinstated for senior men’s rugby at levels below Super6, to commence no later than season 2023/24 but subject always to the Rugby Development Department, in conjunction with the Scottish Rugby Council (or any successor to it) having first conducted a detailed consultation with members and players on (i) whether an Inter-District Championship should be reinstated; and (ii) if sufficiently supported, the format and timing of such a competition. That consultation process should, if practicable, be completed by no later than 31 January 2022 and the outcomes published.”

A motion from Glasgow Hawks, around the Government grant and loan funding received by Scottish Rugby and how it should be spent was next on the agenda.

That motion: “Congratulations are due to Scottish Rugby in securing significant financial support (£15m) from the Scottish Government to ‘support rugby clubs across Scotland that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is understood that the clubs receiving funding are required to provide an undertaking to the Scottish Rugby Union that:

  • The full grant amount will only be used to support ongoing club rugby operations;
  • Will not be used to fund any player transfer fees prior to the end of the 2020-21 season; and
  • Will not be withdrawn from clubs by owners or directors.

“In addition, an interest free loan facility of £5m has been secured with a scheduled repayment date of 2042. The purpose of this loan is ‘to assist grassroots rugby clubs in Scotland with the damage caused to them as a result of their compliance with Covid-19 public health rules’.

“In the interest of transparency and openness sought by member clubs at the AGM 2020, we require that:

  • A schedule of payments made from these two funds should be published and made available to the Scottish Rugby Council, or successor organisation, on a quarterly basis; and that
  • guarantees are sought that any public funds allocated will not be used to support the recruitment of non-Scottish qualified players either directly or indirectly (by meeting other operating costs).

The amendment to the Motion from the Scottish Rugby Council and Board agreed with the request for transparency in reporting how funding would be allocated however flagged concern of the implications of potential risk of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 in relation to the recruitment of non-Scottish players, but was defeated 77 votes to 37 and the original motion was then carried overwhelmingly.

A third motion from Haddington Rugby Club calling for a review of the “efficacy, efficiency and propriety of the inhouse legal and Secretarial function” of Scottish Rugby was withdrawn on the day by the proposers, who are now to discuss their views on the matter with the Standing Committee on Governance (SCOG).

SCOG’s independent chairman, Gavin MacColl QC, had earlier updated delegates on the committee’s on-going governance work thus far and encouraged all clubs to put forward their views and contribute to the forthcoming consultation process, as did Chief Executive Mark Dodson in his subsequent speech.

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