Hamish McLennan, the head of Rugby Australia, has been given a new deadline to contemplate the requests for his resignation.
The current chair of Rugby Australia, Hamish McLennan, has been given more time to decide if he will continue leading the organization. Despite being urged to resign by 5pm on Saturday, McLennan has stated his intention to stay in his role.
A group of six member unions, led by Queensland, wrote a letter to McLennan and the board of RA, requesting his resignation following a disastrous year which ended with the Wallabies’ early exit from the World Cup.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that during a RA board meeting on Saturday, a request was made to the six states for a 24-hour extension on the deadline. The extension was approved and if McLennan does not resign on Sunday, the six member unions are likely to call for an extraordinary general meeting of RA to vote on removing him.
The letter was signed by ACT Rugby, Rugby WA, NT Rugby, Tasmania Rugby, and South Australia Rugby. The organizations in NSW and Victoria were not asked to sign due to current discussions with RA.
According to reports, McLennan has been reached out to by AAP for a statement and has stated his intention to defend his position.
“This will be the defining moment for the battle of rugby. It’s all about money and control and we have been failing for years. We live in interesting times,” McLennan earlier told the Sydney Morning Herald. “This is about principles. They are actually not putting the game first and it’s about self-interest and parochialism.”
Billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest and Nicola Forrest have publicly expressed their support for McLennan, the embattled chair of Rugby Australia, in a joint statement.
According to a statement given to The Weekend Australian, Andrew and Nicola Forrest praised Hamish for successfully navigating rugby through a challenging time, despite the difficult situation he inherited.
Currently is not the appropriate moment for further disturbance within the sport, but rather a moment for rugby to unite and endorse the suggested centralization changes. We fully back the endeavors of Hamish and the current board to centralize high performance and enhance governance in order to prioritize what is best for the sport, its players, and its supporters.
The dramatic turn of events continues a tumultuous period for Australian rugby, with their woes highlighted by a disastrous World Cup campaign overseen by coach Eddie Jones, who has since departed. The sacking of coach Dave Rennie and appointment of Jones, which some dubbed as McLennan’s “captain’s pick”, proved an utter failure.
McLennan faced criticism for signing the promising NRL player, Joseph-Aukuso Sua’ali’i, in a deal worth $4.8m, causing tension with other established Test players.
According to the letter, it is our belief that Mr. McLennan has not been prioritizing the well-being of our sport.
“We have lost confidence in his leadership and the direction he is steering Australian rugby. Furthermore, we feel that Mr. McLennan has exceeded his responsibilities as a director by exerting excessive influence on the operations and executives of Rugby Australia.”
The six labor organizations requesting McLennan’s resignation state that they do not object to the RA’s plans for centralization, but they desire a different leader to manage the process.
“In the last year, Mr. McLennan has made several phone calls that have damaged the reputation and credibility of our sport. This has caused us to question his decision-making abilities and knowledge of high-performance athletics,” the letter reads.
“Under his leadership, his decisions and selections as captain have resulted in a disappointing outcome at the men’s Rugby World Cup. This has also contributed to the Wallabies’ international ranking dropping to an unprecedented low of No. 9, causing negative attention and backlash.”
The six unions are concerned that if the Rugby Australia (RA) is unable to take advantage of the British and Irish Lions Tour in 2025, the men’s World Cup in 2027, and the women’s World Cup in 2029, it could severely damage the sport.
The letter emphasizes the importance of making changes to the leadership of our game in order to avoid losing opportunities and struggling for many years to come.