Karena Vleck (scroll down for video interview), general counsel for the Rugby Football Union (RFU), had a stressful but successful 2012, overhauling the inner workings of the organisation.
Calling the end of the Rugby World Cup in 2011 “a particularly low point”, she notes: “Disciplining [the players] for what they did was a marker in the rehabilitation of the RFU in the eyes of the media. We had a big corporate governance review and that went to the council in November and we’re still working on that. We’re quite proud of that review because not many organisations are brave enough to get a firm in and have a completely independent look at themselves.”
She also settled defamation proceedings arising from the leaked Blackett Review into why former RFU chief executive John Steele left the union.
Another triumph is expected in the form of the RFU’s case against secondary ticket vendor Viagogo. The case was brought against the company two and a half years ago with the RFU demanding the identity of ticket holders who had sold their tickets for more than face value on the Viagogo website.
Fast-forward two and a half years and Vleck is still fighting. She says: “We won in the first instance and received £10,000 in coins in a bucket from them in court costs; they’re not even a cash business. They took us to the Court of Appeal and then to the Supreme Court. They have now moved their efforts outside of the jurisdiction to Switzerland and are still fighting.
“It’s the right thing to do for the RFU to look at the secondary market and make sure tickets are affordable. We could charge three times as much as we do, but we don’t because then we would only get corporates coming, not the genuine rugby fans.”