In a week of controversial fines, this should go down as one of the least surprising. Mark Dodson’s comments, made ahead of Typhoon Hagibis, which wreaked such tragic death and destruction upon the Japanese nation, were tasteless in the extreme.
In threatening to sue World Rugby in the event his Scotland’s decisive group match against Japan was cancelled, Dodson brought the game, and the tournament, into disrepute. In the end, the encounter was played, after incredible efforts by local groundsmen and the tournament organisers, and Scotland were roundly beaten. Regardless, the SRU Chief Executive’s comments were a black mark on an otherwise incredible tournament.
Rightly then, World Rugby’s statement has condemned Dodson, for his suggestion of “unfair and disorganised treatment of all teams”, and determined the misdemeanor worthy of a written apology and a £70,000 fine.
World Rugby went on to state that the SRU has “suggested alternative wording which included a mutual expression of regret from both parties, and no apology”.
World Rugby have also instructed (in a fine gesture and perhaps also a slight two fingered salute to Dodson) that the fine would be donated to the Childfund Pass it Back programme, assisting with the relief effort in areas affected by Typhoon Hagibis.
In response, Scottish Rugby has stated, “we will now reflect on this outcome and further consider our options, which may include arbitration.”
In my personal opinion, Dodson’s position is now untenable. Not only were his comments deplorable, but he must also carry the can for the stagnation in Scottish rugby over the last decade.
Scotland have come nowhere near challenging for a Six Nations, they have looked bereft of ideas at big moments and lack the physicality to compete with the worlds best. The days when figures like Ian McGeechan and Scott Hastings turned Scotland into serious contenders are long gone.
Moreover, Scottish grassroots rugby is suffering severely. Their club game is centralised around the two professional clubs Glasgow and Edinburgh, below that their is little of quality.
After the World Cup exit, an anonymous senior source reportedly told The Press and Journal, “it is totally crazy that it’s not that long since we were one of the worlds top teams. But now, we are being played off the park by a Tier 2 country.”
Who else is to blame but the Chief Executive?
Written by Joe Ronan