Jun 11 2011
John Steele's downfall as Rugby Football Union chief executive was sparked by his decision in March to cancel Sir Clive Woodward's interview for the new performance director position.
Steele decided, on March 17, to cancel Woodward's interview without discussing it with RFU chairman Martyn Thomas or fellow panel member Bill Beaumont. Had Steele telephoned either of them, Thomas and Beaumont would have at least tried to persuade him to go ahead with the interview.
Instead, Steele sent them an email which neither Thomas nor Beaumont picked up until later in the evening, and Thomas said: "The interview was cancelled and John made that decision. He was not able to communicate with Bill Beaumont and myself, the other members of the panel."
He added: "We were both not contactable by email. We didn't receive that until late and by the time we received the email, as opposed to the phone call, it was too late to reinstate the interview.
"Looking back on it, with hindsight, that was a defining moment where things were starting to go wrong.
"Whether Clive would have got the job if he had been interviewed is hypothetical but certainly things started to go off track at that point.
"In my view it was the time that things started to go wrong."
Asked whether he would expect his chief executive to call him to discuss such an important issue, Thomas said: "It is very important that the chief executive, the chairman and the board members speak regularly and we were doing so.
"I think we owe a duty to people that have put themselves in that position to follow that process through to its conclusion.
"You only need one applicant that is right, they apply and you appoint them."