Is Rupert Howell off to be chief ‘old fart’ at the RFU?
That’s if today’s Daily Mail is to be believed. The paper’s sports writer Charles Sale has tipped Howell, the former managing director of ITV brand and commercial, as candidate for the RFU chief job that is currently occupied on an interim basis by Martyn Thomas.
At face value his evidence for this is a bit flimsy – Howell has apparently been seen in New Zealand for the World Cup final meaning that any number of media figures, including Simon Daglish, could be up for the job – but Sale rarely gets it wrong.
It’s fair to say that the job is not a particularly easy one – Thomas took over in June from John Steele who was sacked after the search for a performance director, that may or may not have been Sir Clive Woodward, turned into a farce.
Despite holding the job temporarily, Thomas has already had to endure two votes of no confidence and the ignominious spectacle of England’s woeful performance at the Rugby World Cup.
Howell follows a glorious line of TV men that have sought alternative careers in rugby – the former managing director of Granada, Phil France, made it down to the final two to become chief executive of the International Rugby Board but flunked it at the last moment.
Malcolm Wall, also formerly of Granada and then of Virgin Media, stepped up to become chairman of Harlequins after the ‘Bloodgate’ scandal in 2009 – he was also a candidate for the RFU job which eventually went to Steele.
Given the politics involved and the apparent dysfunction of the RFU set up, Howell’s experience balancing conflicting demands and personalities at ITV should come in useful. Clear minded, thoughtful, intelligent – although occasionally prone to self-importance – I hope that he gets the job. And he also rather looks the part.