Council to have say in ORFU

The Dunedin City Council has been given a stake in the future of the Otago Rugby Football Union, and will use it to closely scrutinise candidates vying to be part of the next board, Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull says.

It was confirmed yesterday the council will have a say in the make-up of the new ORFU board, as part of a selection panel being assembled under a new constitution being drafted for the union.

The council will also have a seat at future union board meetings, with an observer allowed to sit in on meetings, with access to all papers, and with the right to ask questions and report back to the council.

The changes were detailed in a letter by ORFU change manager Jeremy Curragh to council chief executive Paul Orders, to be considered by councillors at an extraordinary council meeting on Thursday.

Councillors will decide at the meeting whether a representative from the council or Dunedin Venues Management Ltd - the council-controlled organisation which runs the Forsyth Barr Stadium - should be their representative on the selection panel.

They will also decide whether to have an observer on the board, and if so, who that should be.

Mr Cull, contacted last night, said the steps would help ensure the union was a "robust" organisation.

"Given the importance of the ORFU to the revenue streams in our stadium, it wouldn't hurt to be in a position of knowing a little more, ahead of time, than we have in the past," he said.

The council's input into the make-up of the next board was part of a financial rescue package agreed by the parties last month, which included $480,000 owed to the council and DVML by the union being written off.

Mr Cull said the council had an interest in seeing a reformed ORFU that was successful, with "robust" governance systems in place, but the council had no interest in seeking "majority control".

"Having a little bit of input in the beginning, if that helps, is all to the better, but I don't see the council having ongoing control in any way."

Conditions attached to the rescue package also required the union's 11-member board to resign, and a new constitution to be drawn up.

The new board was expected to be smaller, and although current board members could stand again, board chairman Wayne Graham and his deputy, Laurie Mains, had indicated they would not.

Mr Cull said he expected "a new board", but would not be drawn on whether he wanted all new faces.

"I think that selection of the new board would need to be looked at in terms of their skill set and their record, whoever they were."

Mr Curragh, in his letter, said the selection panel would initially comprise four members, including the council representative, a chairman from the New Zealand Rugby Union and two other members, to be elected at the ORFU's special general meeting on May 1.

The panel would be expanded to six members after a "transition phase".

The members would include an independent chairman appointed by a three-person subcommittee that included the council representative.

Applications for the new board would close on May 4, and the panel would begin interviewing candidates on May 7, he said.



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