Former rugby chief to challenge dismissal at tribunal

Secrecy surrounded Keith Russell's departure from one of Scottish Rugby's most senior executive roles. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
Secrecy surrounded Keith Russell's departure from one of Scottish Rugby's most senior executive roles. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
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The father of Scotland rugby star Finn Russell is set to haul the sport’s governing body before a tribunal alleging he was unjustly sacked.

Secrecy surrounded Keith Russell’s departure in May last year from one of Scottish Rugby’s most senior executive roles.

It has now emerged Mr Russell is accusing former bosses of serious employment law breaches as Finn takes to the field today in the Six Nations opener against Wales in Cardiff. The Scotsman can reveal the allegations lodged by his legal team include unfair dismissal, that Scottish Rugby failed to allow him to take or pay him for statutory holidays, and breach of contract.

Mr Russell will also allege bosses failed to allow him to accompany or be accompanied in a disciplinary or grievance hearing.

Heralded as one of the nation’s top sports administrators with 25 years’ experience, Mr Russell became Scottish Rugby’s director of domestic rugby in 2015 amid much fanfare.

But his tenure lasted only a little more than two years, ending in apparent acrimony and a swathe of allegations.

The role meant promoting and developing the game at all levels from grassroots up to professional outfits Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors. Mr Russell said yesterday: “I’ve been told by my lawyers that I shouldn’t really comment at the moment.”

He was contacted while en route to Wales to watch his son represent Scotland.

Finn, who is Scotland’s first-choice stand-off, is playing out his contract with the Warriors before joining French club Racing 92 next season.

The 25-year-old is expected to win his 33rd cap this afternoon at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium after representing the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand tlast summer.

Mr Russell’s other two sons also play the game – Harry at Falkirk and Archie at Stirling County, Finn’s old teams.

Before taking on the key strategic role at Scottish Rugby, Mr Russell was head of sport at Glasgow Life for ten years.

He played a pivotal role with Scottish Rugby in establishing Scotstoun as the home of Glasgow Warriors.

Mr Russell was also credited with developing and implementing the Sport and Physical Activity Legacy Plan for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Welcoming his appointment, Scottish Rugby’s chief executive Mark Dodson said at the time: “We are very pleased to announce this important appointment.

“Development of our game is a strategic priority for us and Keith’s leadership in nurturing sustainable rugby activity and partnerships across the school and club game will be fundamental to the ongoing expansion of our sport.”

Mr Russell set up his own consulting firm in July last year following his departure from Scottish Rugby.

He was also in November contracted to provide management services for Snowsport Scotland.

A hearing at Edinburgh’s employment tribunal court in Melville Street is listed for Monday week. A spokesman for Scottish Rugby declined to comment.