SRU says sorry and admits Keith Russell case has left a ‘dark cloud’

Former director of domestic rugby Keith Russell won an unfair dismissal case against the SRU. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS
Former director of domestic rugby Keith Russell won an unfair dismissal case against the SRU. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS
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Outgoing SRU president Rob Flockhart admitted there had been “a dark cloud” hanging over Scottish rugby in the six weeks since former director of domestic rugby Keith Russell won his unfair dismissal case and apologised to member clubs at yesterday’s AGM.

SRU board chairman Colin Grassie went on to describe it as a “low moment” for the union and said that the review into the affair conducted by fellow board member and former solicitor-general Lesley Thomson, which involved external input, is now being assessed and findings will be made public in early September.

Grassie disclosed that a separate review is also being conducted into the union’s controversial use of non-disclosure agreements and revealed that there had been a total of 14 signed by departing “non playing and coaching staff”.

Russell, the father of Scotland stand-off Finn, did not sign an NDA after being dismissed from his role in May 2017. He went on to win his unfair dismissal case in June and subsequently spoke out about what he described as a “toxic” working environment at the SRU.

Chief executive Mark Dodson made no mention of the case during yesterday’s meeting at BT Murrayfield but both Flockhart and Grassie made strongly worded statements. Flockhart said: “I want to reassure you that through council and board we will learn the lessons from the tribunal findings, we will implement recommendations... And I want to take this opportunity today to apologise to you all for the manner in which these matters have transpired. We must do better in this regard.”

At the end of the AGM Flockhart was succeeded by Dee Bradbury, who becomes the first female president of a leading rugby nation.