HISTORY was made at Murrayfield yesterday when Oban Lorne’s Dee Bradbury was voted into office as vice president of the Scottish Rugby Union, meaning she will become the governing body’s first female president in two years’ time.
Bradbury will take over the top job in 2018 when the new president, Rob Flockhart, steps down.
“I am delighted that the clubs have had the vision to support me in my campaign and vote the right way, in my mind,” said Bradbury after the SRU’s annual general meeting at the national stadium.
“I am looking forward to the challenges, of which there will be plenty, but I am a retired police officer, I don’t work any more, so I have the time and the resources to devote to it. I am really looking forward to working with Rob and the executive.”
Bradbury is a former player and the mother of Edinburgh breakaway Magnus Bradbury.
It has taken 153 years to produce a female president but it was a close run thing with Bradbury winning 98 votes in the first ballot which was a small majority of the 192 votes that were cast on the day.
For the second year running Ian Barr was a close second with Jed-Forest’s John Davidson in third place.
The outgoing president Eddie Crozier made a plea for the president’s role to be made a paid one, a little like the chairman, because the days of just popping into Murrayfield for a day here and there are long gone and he may well have a point.
In a passionate speech Crozier also argued that the club game was in danger of “losing its soul”. Flockhart, the incoming president, was markedly more upbeat.
“I don’t agree with Eddie,” Flockhart argued. “There are serious challenges but if you go round the clubs there are guys with huge enthusiasm.”
The annual meeting of Scottish clubs always involves a fair bit of tub thumping from the executives who run the business and yesterday was no different with a slew of facts and figures, most of which suggested that the finances of the organisation are going the right way although as chief executive Mark Dodson admitted they need to keep doing so just for the Union to stand still, such are the demands of the game.
Turnover rose to £47.4 million, a hike of £3.2m over the last financial year, and the money given to clubs has risen to £2.94m and the overall debt has fallen to an average of £8.5m which is down from almost £15m just six years ago. The cost of that debt has also halved to about £400,000 per annum thanks to the low level of interest rates. But Dodson recognised that more needs to be done.
He admitted that the game was at a crossroads and revealed that he was heading up a drive to attract private investment into the game in Scotland which may result in a complete restructuring of Murrayfield.
In terms of the business at hand there were just four motions tabled, three of which dealt with administrative mopping up at the request of the ongoing working party on governance.
The fourth motion came from Grangemouth Stags which begged the agm to split the Caledonian League One into two separate divisions, one in the North, the other in the Midlands, since few players want to spend much of their weekend on a bus.
The Northern clubs, in the form of Mike Monro, were vehement in their opposition to the motion, arguing that the local clubs that would be drafted in to replace those reluctant to travel simply were not up to the task and a series of horrible mismatches would be the inevitable outcome.
Munro was backed up by several other speakers who easily persuaded the majority of members to vote the motion down, so pleasing the bus companies if not the Grangemouth Stags.