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RUGBY UNION: Murphy ready to take reins
Paul Murphy is looking forward to a quieter life at the RFU when he takes over as president on Sunday.
Murphy, from Abingdon, has been the RFU’s chairman in a tumultuous year that saw a poor World Cup for England and the union facing scathing criticism.
The 61 year-old former Abingdon, Oxford and Oxfordshire player will succeed Willie Wildash as president at the RFU’s annual general meeting.
“It is a great honour and I am looking forward to it,” said Murphy, who represented Oxfordshire on the RFU council from 1995 to 2011.
“I will probably be the most informed president coming into office for many years.
“Having done 12 months as chairman, there is not much I don’t know about.
“It will be a much more ceremonial role, but still an opportunity to spread the word on many of the excellent aspects of what the RFU does.
“I am very grateful to Unipart, where I work, who have given me a 12-month career break.
“It was possible to mix work with being chairman, but as president I may be opening a clubhouse in Penryn one day, seeing some of the community engagement work that the union does or speaking at a rugby club dinner in Penrith the next day.”
Murphy, who is also Abingdon RFC president, was asked to take over as chairman last summer after the fall-out following chief executive John Steele’s departure.
He said he got the job because of his experience, which included serving for six years on RFU Board.
“I was a safe pair of hands and was not involved in the previous issues and not tainted by anything going on,” said Murphy.
“It was a very challenging hot seat for the latter six months of 2011 when there was uncertainty and problems needed to be resolved. Morale was very low.
“But a lot of strategic changes have taken place and now there is clear direction. Morale is better now.”
Murphy’s successor as chairman will be former England captain Bill Beaumont.
“The chairman is still chosen on an annual basis, but hopefully Bill will look at doing it for at least the next two or three years,” said Murphy.
Sunday’s meeting will be a busy one for Murphy.
He said: “I get presented with a different blazer and tie and I make an inaugural speech about the recent events and my thoughts for the future.
“I would also like to give a big thanks to the clubs and executive of Oxfordshire for all their support over many years.”