Reshuffle at the RFU reduces Andrew's influence

Rob Andrew is considering whether to apply for a new job at the Rugby Football Union after his current position as England's director of elite rugby was scrapped.

The RFU's new chief executive John Steele has looked to strengthen the organisation's management structure by merging Andrew's elite department with the union's community rugby arm.

The new single rugby department will be divided into the areas of performance, operations and development. Richmond-born Andrew, 47, has been invited to apply for the role of rugby operations director, which includes many of his current responsibilities.

"I am very excited about the future of the game in England, and the re-structuring that will place rugby at the heart of everything the RFU does," said Andrew.

"Change is never easy but there are some exciting opportunities and challenges ahead. I will be considering the role of rugby operations director in the coming weeks and in the meantime will continue with my responsibilities as elite rugby director."

Andrew, who joined the RFU in 2006 after being preferred to Sir Clive Woodward, will remain in position until the RFU's recruitment process is completed.

Steele's reshuffle means that England team manager Martin Johnson will report to the new performance director, a position that has been heavily linked to Woodward.

The main focus of Steele's tenure is to maximise the benefits of hosting the 2015 Rugby World Cup for the entire game in England, from the elite level to the grass roots.

Consequently, Steele has brought the community game into the central rugby department, to be managed by a new director of development.

"I have spent the last few months gathering insight and views on how the RFU could better serve the game," said Steele.

"What became clear is that while we had a sound commercial platform we did not have enough focus on the quality of the rugby experience across the game.

"So the new structure puts rugby right at the centre of the business and seeks to create more rugby expertise to benefit all levels of the game.

"The next five years will be some of the most exciting in the RFU's history and I wanted to make sure we are in the right shape as an organisation to seize the opportunities in front of us.

"The three senior appointments in the rugby area are hugely important to the future of the game."

The rugby operations director position will include the continued management of the elite player scheme and English qualified player programme.

Andrew was responsible for brokering both arrangements with the Premiership clubs and they are proving to be a success.

The job description also includes responsibility for areas such as competitions and tournaments, sports science and referees at all levels of the game, not just in elite rugby.

The performance director will be Johnson's boss but the main focus of the position is player development, to provide England with the best chance of winning the 2015 World Cup on home soil.

Woodward, England's 2003 World Cup-winning coach, is currently the elite performance director at the British Olympic Association.

Even if he was interested in a return to the RFU, it would be a significant wrench to leave the Olympic movement so close to London 2012.

Former Australia coach Eddie Jones and South Africa's World Cup-winning coach Jake White have both expressed an interest in recent days.

Away from the rugby department, Steele has created two new enhanced roles of chief commercial officer and chief financial

officer which boast new and wider responsibilities.

Steele found the executive level management to be fragmented when he took over from Francis Baron in September and he has sought to make it more streamlined and more efficient.

"These new executive roles are a huge opportunity to ensure that we have the brightest and the best people leading the business moving forward," he said.

Nick Eastwood, the current

finance director, has been invited to apply for the new position which now encompasses all corporate support services, such as IT and legal. The commercial post was vacated by Paul Vaughan, who is to become chief executive of the World Cup delivery company England 2015.

The reorganisation has led to a number of executive redundancies, including competitions and tournaments director Terry Burwell, who will not be joining England 2015, community rugby director Andrew Scoular and elite teams media director Richard Prescott.