Steve Brown's to-do list: What the RFU's new CEO has in his inbox

Steve Brown has been in the Rugby Football Union's (RFU) chief executive hot seat for just 22 days but he has already got a raft of issues on his to-do list.

They range from the player welfare discussion, to the community game, expanding women's rugby and ensuring the England men's team are given the best possible chance of winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

He replaced Ian Ritchie as RFU top dog having joined the organisation back in 2011 in a role then as chief financial officer. This job developed into chief officer of business operations and he also served as managing director of England Rugby 2015, the group who delivered the last World Cup.

On Tuesday he faced the press for the first time as RFU CEO and said his leadership revolves around learning facts and data, collecting knowledge and listening. He saw the three key areas within English rugby as the community, professional game and the national teams. And under those sectors of the sport, he identified nine key areas that he will focus on as he settles into the new role.

Player Welfare

In line with his philosophy, he wants to "get under the skin" of the science of the issues facing players. He will work with the Rugby Players' Association to listen to their members and assess the physical and mental demands the players are being loaded with.

"There's lots of great data and science for this," Brown said. "People are working on this so that the RFU, Professional Game Board, clubs and players can look behind the facts of what's happening in the game."

Working with the Premiership and Championship clubs

Eddie Jones emphasised last week how much the RFU appreciated its relationship with the Premiership clubs, after the two parties signed the latest Professional Game Agreement in July, 2016. The key word in his take on this aspect of his job was "sustainability".

"We need to respect the owners [of the clubs]," Brown said. "There are a group of people in the Premiership and Championship who have invested significant sums in making this sport great and creating the England players we use internationally. We need to listen to them and understand and respect the commitment they have made to the game."

Global season

When World Rugby confirmed the new global calendar back in March -- which comes into play in 2020 -- Premiership Rugby announced its new-look season would run from September to the end of June. With the end-of-year Tests shifted to July in the new structure, this would mean an 11-month season for England's elite players. They are understandably concerned and Brown says he will seek discussions with key stakeholders to get the situation ironed out.

He will also be the man to steer the RFU into the new global calendar and says they are "doing the work in the background now" to ensure the organisation is ready.

Six Nations

The RFU proposed the annual tournament should be shortened by a week, to six, but as things stand, the Six Nations will remain at seven.

"We did support it [reducing it by a week] among a package of other situations planned," Brown said. "It was voted against within the Six Nations group. We did vote to support it because of our understanding of the overall calendar. It wasn't supported, so it's done. The decision was made. We're also listening to what the players are saying and they don't like the look of the reduction."

Women's game

Brown spoke of an "explosion of interest and participation" in the women's game and said the RFU is continuing to mould a system and is investing in infrastructure. This runs from hopefully bringing in "full professionalization" down to grassroots level. He identified one issue -- a number of local rugby clubs do not have female changing rooms. This is something he is hoping to change.


The community pillar is a key part of his remit and highlighted the RFU's commitment to providing funding for artificial pitches, building better facilities and making the sport as accessible to anyone who wants to play it.

England teams

"We want to win and we want to win everything we're involved in," Brown said. "Not just the men's team but the women too and with every team we have."

The main money driver is the senior men's England side and he has met with Jones four times in three weeks. He says the meetings have a clear structure and his role is to support Jones and the team in the run up to the 2019 World Cup.

Social media

The basic mission here is find out "what generation z is all about". He wants the approach to be modern and progressive.


The East Stand is currently undergoing a huge redevelopment to bring all official matchday hospitality inside the stadium, costing the RFU a reported £54 million. Brown said every pound and penny brought in from Twickenham will continue to go back into the game.

"We have a fantastic base for this sport in this country," Brown said. "It's very easy for use to get dragged into the negatives and the challenges that are there. We potentially have the best rugby opportunity in the world and we need to make the most of that."