SCOTTISH Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson has defended the decision not to publish the business’ accounts in August, as in previous years, on the basis that the Covid-19 pandemic meant the paperwork could not be prepared on time.

“The accounts have been so severely affected by Covid-19 that the reporting and auditing of those accounts is going to take much more time than normal,” said Dodson. “So, to give the most complete picture possible, we couldn’t hit the deadline before August 6th. Consequently, what we’re going to do is put those out well before the second part of the AGM to give people time to understand.”

Part one of the AGM will happen by video link on Saturday to take care of the essential business of ratifying Ian Barr as the new president and electing either Colin Rigby or Keith Wallace to take his place as vice-president.

Part two will take place at a date still to be decided, when club delegates can meet in the same room, and will take care of the two motions which have been brought by clubs to force better connectivity between the game’s ultimate stakeholders (the clubs) and management (the board and council). This is also when the accounts will be reviewed.

“I’m hopeful we’ll be able to get it [the second part of the AGM] done in the autumn,” Dodson said. “I don’t think there’s any desire from us to have the AGM going further back. If we can have it in October,

potentially, before we start the Nations Cup, then I think we’ll be looking to do that.”

Dodson and his executive team have faced heavy criticism during the last two years for a lack of transparency and accountability, with the hand-ling of last year’s accounts a case in point. The claim that Scottish Rugby had achieved a “debt-free position” was categorised as spin, and it wasn’t until the statutory accounts were lodged at Companies House in mid-January that it was revealed that the chief executive had been paid £933,000 including bonuses for the year. But Dodson insisted there was no intention in this instance to keep stakeholders in the dark.

“It [pushing back publication of the accounts] is a decision not taken by any one individual. Both the board and council have agreed that it is right and proper. There are no by-law infringements as far as I understand it,” he said.

On a separate note, Dodson restated his determination to secure contract extensions for Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend and Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill, both of whom are out of contract next summer.

“That’s one of the things we’ll try and push on with,” he said. “Our list of priorities changes often at the moment given the circumstances, but I’d say it’s in the top 10 priorities that we’ve got.

“The reason being that, any new players who want to join us over the next year or two will want to know who they’re playing for. We can’t have the World Cup in 2023 without getting to a point in time where Gregor is or is not the head coach. The same for Richard. With the changing budget and changing group of players, I think it’s important the players know who they’re going to be playing for.

“They’re both happy to talk to me about it, which is a good sign. They understand what they want to achieve and they’re telling me what they want from me to be able to do the best job they can.”