CHARLES SALE: Francis Baron forced to quit RFU in July

Francis Baron, RFU chief executive, who tearfully announced he will quit at the end of the season at yesterday's council meeting, had wished to remain in office for at least another year.

Baron wanted to stay at the helm at Twickenham until the next World Cup in New Zealand in September 2011, after which he would have liked a position on the World Cup organising committee for the 2015 tournament in England. But opposition within the game to his continuing in power for so long persuaded him to retire after next July's AGM.

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Francis Baron

Forced out: Francis Baron

The strength of feeling shown by councillors opposed to the controversial £500,000 South Stand sculpture - a Baron initiative - is understood to have played a part in his agonised decision to retire. But his involvement in the 2015 World Cup was a non-starter due to his differences with the International Rugby Board.

Baron's departure at 65 will make management board chairman Martyn Thomas the most powerful figure in English rugby. And Thomas, who has two more years in office, is sure to chair the World Cup organising group afterwards.

Thomas, who will make the final decision on a successor, is expected to conduct a full investigation into why the no-expense-spared RFU set-up at Twickenham does not often result in a great England team on the pitch.

Baron, who survived an attempted coup in 2004 that instead led to the exit of RFU chairman Graeme Cattermole, has had his critics during his 12 years in charge. But he can take a lot of credit for building the modern Twickenham that compares favourably with any sports stadium in the world.


Former world champion Barry McGuigan's attempts to work openly with amateur and professional boxers is ruffling feathers. Olympic boxers David Price, Tony Jeffries and Frankie Gavin, who have since turned pro, all missed the launch of his amateur boxing academy in Leicester yesterday, despite being invited. It is understood their managers Frank Maloney and Frank Warren, not the best of friends themselves, were furious they were not approached about their men's involvement.


Brian Moore, the loose cannon of BBC rugby and Daily Telegraph Sport, has made a number of 'unreserved apologies' both on air and in print for his totally unacceptable 'thalidomide' description of a Mike Teague try on Radio 5 Live a week ago. But the BBC have also seen fit to 'take action' against Moore (above), which is understood to have been a severe warning, suggesting that if there is one more crass statement from Six Nations co-commentator Moore he will be shown the exit - and not before time.


The latest hiatus for the 2018 England World Cup bid is over the stalled tender for international PR assistance, for which Webber Shandwick and Havas Sport were competing. Director of communications Kris Dent, who is organising the selection process, is now absent from work for 'personal reasons' following Simon Greenberg's appointment as chief of staff in charge of media strategy. It is unclear if Dent will return to Wembley.

Kids' gear buttons

One of the big winners from Jenson Button's move to McLaren is Marks & Spencer, who agreed a major merchandising deal with the Formula One team for a range of children's clothing when the fortunes of Lewis Hamilton were at their lowest ebb. Now M&S can take advantage of having the names of both successive British world champion drivers Button and Hamilton on their F1 children's collection next spring - a dream partnership for M&S, if not necessarily on the track.

Ghana, one of six African countries in the World Cup finals, have joined the queue of nations who want to provide the opposition for the scheduled international friendly at Wembley in March. They are also offering to host the match in Ghana, which would be a first for England, who have never played in East, West or Central Africa.

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