Jeffrey is interim chairman of Scottish Rugby Board

John Jeffrey, former Scottish international, British and Irish Lion, and 1990 Grand Slam hero, has been unanimously appointed as an independent non-executive director and interim chairman of the Scottish Rugby Board.

By Ralph Mellon
Wednesday, 27th May 2020, 4:55 pm
John Jeffrey (archive image by Gavin Horsburgh)
John Jeffrey (archive image by Gavin Horsburgh)

The decision was announced today (Monday) as former chairman Colin Grassie, who had already announced his intention to quit, stepped aside with immediate effect after the conclusion of a multi-million pound investment deal by private equity company CVC Capital Partners (CVC) in the Pro-14 tournament, which features a number of Borders players.

Jeffrey (61) has been a co-opted member of the Scottish Rugby Council since 2010, a member of the Six Nations Council since 2012 and its chairman since last July.

He has also represented Scottish Rugby at World Rugby since 2010, where has sat on the executive committee since 2016 and has chaired the Rugby Committee since 2013.

As a player, Kelso farmer Jeffrey, a back-row forward known as ‘The Great White Shark’, earned 40 caps for Scotland between 1984 and 1991.

As the announcement was made, Colin Grassie said: “I leave with great pride and gratitude to my fellow Board members past and present and acknowledge the hard work of all our staff and volunteers, who do so much to support our great game.

“I am also very pleased to be able to hand the chairman role over to John Jeffrey, an outstanding player, leader and sports administrator.

“With JJ’s knowledge of the game, and wealth of experience at Six Nations and World Rugby, the Scottish Rugby Board will be very well served.

“We face, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, significant challenges as a sport but I know the Board at Scottish Rugby will remain focused on guiding the whole sport from the grassroots to the national teams through this crisis in the most sustainable way it can.

Jeffrey himself said: “I was very pleased to accept the role of chairman at Scottish Rugby. Our sport faces significant challenges just now and I hope I can put my experience to good use for the benefit of Scottish Rugby and the whole rugby community in Scotland.

“Under Colin’s chairmanship, the Board and Scottish Rugby made progress in important areas and I look forward to continuing that work.”

Scottish Rugby president Dee Bradbury praised Grassie’s contribution in the role, adding: “We are fortunate to welcome as our new chairman John Jeffrey, who will bring his own significant experience and knowledge to the role. He joins at a challenging time for our sport but I know he will be an asset to the Board and Scottish rugby in the months ahead.”

Vice-president Ian Barr said: “I know ‘JJ’ will bring his knowledge and passion to the role and is respected across the game in Scotland. I look forward to working with him in the months ahead.”

The Board indicated its search for a permanent chairman was ongoing and remains unaffected. The nominations committee will lead this search on the Board’s behalf.

The Offside Line website reported that the nominations committee for Jeffrey’s appointment consisted of Dee Bradbury, independent non-executive directors Lesley Thomson QC and Julia Bracewell, and SRU Council-nominated non-executive director Graeme Scott – adding that Grassie previously chaired this group but it was not clear whether Jeffrey would now assume that role in the search for his long-term replacement.