Clubs reduce voting rights to ‘future-proof’ Munster

Delegates of the Munster Branch of the IRFU have unanimously voted through changes to its governance structures to allow the province to introduce independent expertise to its management committee.

Munster held an egm in Charleville last Thursday at which it received unanimous backing from club delegates to push through measures which will effectively reduce those delegates’ representation on key decision-making committees.

The alterations to the governance of the Munster Branch needed IRFU approval before the egm was called and Munster Rugby head of finance and operations Philip Quinn — currently acting chief executive as Garrett Fitzgerald continues his recovery from major surgery — said the changes were necessary to enhance its ability to become a “High Performance Global Organisation”, one of its six core objectives outlined in the recently published Strategic Plan 2018-2021.

Independent expertise has already been brought in on the commercial board and Quinn insisted the measures at branch and management committee did not alter the clubs’ majorities.

“We will still be run by the clubs, no change there,” Quinn told the Irish Examiner. “It’s just adding in a couple more independent people into the process. We have done a governance review, from which we will be implementing a new structure.

“We’re talking about our committee structures, above the paid, professional staff. It’s not a massive change but what it will show is a couple of independent people coming in.

“Historically, it’s a representative system we have. Representatives of the clubs sitting on all the committees, whether it be at branch level or management committee level. It’s worked really well but I suppose we’re making ourselves more future-proof by being able to bring in a couple of independent people into those structures.

“We do it a bit, for example, on our finance committee. We have two people who haven’t come from the club structure but come in from the business world with expertise that can assist us. But we’re not doing it at management committee level and this will allow us to do that. Bring a couple of independent directors in there. They’ve come in through the commercial board but they’re not on the committee, not right now, our management committee is all representative at the moment.”

Reiterating the Munster Rugby view that the introduction of independent expertise would make the province more efficient, Quinn said assent from the egm would mean new structures in place by the end of the season.

“It will allow us to bring those guys in and, the same as any board in any company, have different levels of expertise, or areas of expertise under each director. So, for example, if we feel we don’t have anyone who has the knowledge on the pro game or the commercial side, we don’t have to look within our structures, we can look outside and bring that expertise straight onto the board. It just makes us more efficient.”

Quinn admitted the reaction from Munster’s clubs ”would have been hesitant at the start” and accepted the fact that there were plenty of capable people with the right expertise within those clubs but said that was part of the Catch 22 in the province.

“I think a lot of clubs these days want to retain those capable people within their own club. That’s perfectly understandable because they need to secure their futures. So there’s a hesitancy to let those capable people come up to the Munster level.

“This is trying to find that right balance. It’s no disrespect to our existing branch members or anyone.”

Adding that there would not be extra places created on committees but instead a “slight reduction in club representation”, Quinn emphasised the club representatives still held the majority vote.

“While we will have a Munster Rugby board, effectively in place, they will still be reporting into the branch committee, so the ultimate power remains with the branch committee of representatives of all the clubs. That should never change. That is the Irish model that’s worked. It’s an inclusive model and we’re happy with how that is.

“It’s just a way of bringing in a bit more expertise.”

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