Steve Brown will step down as RFU chief executive at end of the year

England rocked with 10 months to go to World Cup as RFU chief executive Steve Brown quits after just over a year in top job

  • RFU chief executive Steve Brown will be stepping down at the end of the year
  • His sudden exit comes amid a period of financial upheaval at Twickenham 
  • He only took the job last year and will be temporarily replaced by Nigel Melville
  • The RFU chairman admitted Brown’s resignation marks a sad day for the union 

The state of turmoil at the RFU deepened drastically on Friday as the union revealed that chief executive Steve Brown will be ‘stepping down’ at the end of this year.

His abrupt departure comes in the midst of a period of financial upheaval at Twickenham which has seen the RFU go from a position of stability and prosperity to an enforced phase of redundancies and savage cost-cutting. 

Brown only took over as chief executive on September 1 last year, having previously acted as chief financial officer and managing director of England Rugby 2015 – the organisation formed to oversee the last World Cup in this country.

Steve Brown has resigned as RFU chief executive just 10 months out from the World Cup

Steve Brown has resigned as RFU chief executive just 10 months out from the World Cup

While a reason for his exit from the governing body has not been given, it is happening at a time when the RFU balance sheets have been put under incredible strain due to a colossal over-spend on the East Stand redevelopment at Twickenham – undertaken as a means of bringing the corporate hospitality market for big games in-house. 

It is also understood that the expansion of the work-force to meet the demands of hosting the World Cup was not followed by a sufficient contraction after the tournament.

Brown succeeded Ian Ritchie, who left the RFU before the financial problems took hold and subsequently took up a post as chairman of Premiership Rugby. Now, as the RFU begin the process of recruiting a new CEO, their director of professional rugby, Nigel Melville – himself a former chief executive of USA Rugby – will fill the position on an interim basis.

Brown's (R) abrupt exit comes in the midst of a period of financial upheaval at Twickenham

Brown’s (R) abrupt exit comes in the midst of a period of financial upheaval at Twickenham

In an official statement which attempted to put a positive gloss on the situation, Brown said: ‘This has been a very difficult decision for me to make, and I informed the RFU Board earlier this week that the time is right for me to step down and take some time out. I’ve loved my time in rugby, and am deeply proud to have made a contribution to a sport I love. It has been a great honour to lead the RFU over the last 14 months. I’m sad to leave, but the union is in good shape, with an excellent leadership team in place.’

Andy Cosslett, the RFU chairman, added: ‘This is a sad day for the union. Steve has made a huge contribution to the RFU during his time here. He has been a pivotal figure during a long period of sustained growth for the union and played a key role in delivering Rugby World Cup 2015 (which) returned a wonderful dividend for the RFU and left a lasting legacy.

‘Steve’s tireless work ethic and selfless attitude has won him the respect of all who know him and the game will be extremely sad to see him go. Steve is a good man and a good friend to many of us. He leaves with our very best wishes and our sincere thanks.’ 

Andy Cosslett, the RFU chairman, admitted that his resignation marks a sad day for the union

Andy Cosslett, the RFU chairman, admitted that his resignation marks a sad day for the union

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