A MOTION of no confidence in Colin Grassie, chairman of the SRU Board, was set aside at the last minute during a forum meeting of the clubs in National Leagues Two and Three on Wednesday night. The fact that it even reached that stage says a lot about how fraught the relationship is between the governing body and the membership they are supposed to represent.

Issues such as the Keith Russell affair, the bungled imposition of the Agenda3/Super6 restructuring of the club game, and the executive pay scandal, have created an environment of deep mistrust, but the key issue in this instance is Grassie’s role in trying to railroad through Sir Bill Gammell’s controversial proposals to overhaul the governance structure of the SRU.

If implemented, this will see ultimate control of the game in this country, and ownership of the assets, transferred from the clubs to the paid executives.

In the end, it was decided that the motion – which was expected to pass with a comfortable majority – should be pulled because it would be too much of a distraction at the following night’s Joint Meeting of the Council and Board, when it was hoped by most of the elected Council members that they would finally get Gammell’s report consigned to the bin.

The Council members are predominantly elected by clubs and other key stakeholders such as the women’s game, referees and schools. With one or two exceptions, we understand that these individuals are wholly opposed to Gammell, reflecting the views of their constituents.

The response to Gammell across the club rugby landscape has been almost entirely negative, with the few voices in favour tending to come from those associated with Super6 clubs, who were given favoured-child status when they were admitted into the new league last year with all the extra funding and support which that provides.

Details on how Thursday’s Joint Board and Council meeting went remain sketchy, although it appears Gammell is still on the table and that we can expect Grassie and co to keep fighting hard for it – which was almost inevitable with CVC’s big bucks looming over the horizon. A long and fraught summer of political in-fighting appears to be on the cards.

If it is any consolation, Scotland is not alone in struggling to force the square peg of naked corporate avarice into the round hole of rugby’s traditional values as a participation sport for all.

We heard last week that 34 Welsh clubs have requisitioned an EGM for a vote to rescind the recently-introduced method for distributing direct funding to the community game because of concerns about its fairness. This comes on the back of a bitter struggle last year over funding for the Welsh Premiership, which fed into a wider debate over the role of the top clubs in the performance pathway.

Meanwhile, clubs in the second-tier English Championship are up in arms after being told their central funding is going to be slashed by almost 50 per cent [£240k per year], with the RFU making it clear that they don’t see the league providing value for money in terms of elite player development.

There is a clear pattern here of power and money being concentrated more and more on a small elite. We are told it is progress – but who benefits? And at what cost?

All the while, player numbers are dropping across the globe.