Board ousts Rugby Australia chair Hamish McLennan

Hamish McLennan has lost his post as Rugby Australia chairman following a vote of no confidence.

Hamish McLennan has lost his post as Rugby Australia chairman following a vote of no confidence. Photo: AAP

Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan has been ousted following an extraordinary late-night board meeting, according to reports.

On Sunday, McLennan vowed to fight to hold onto his position despite six member unions, including Queensland, the ACT and RugbyWA, demanding his resignation.

But McLennan’s bid to keep his job ended on Sunday night after an emergency board meeting, according to The Australian.

World Cup-winning Wallaby Daniel Herbert has been named as McLennan’s replacement on an interim basis, the report said.

McLennan opted to quit the board entirely rather than remain as a director.

His exit marks the end of an ugly chapter in Australian rugby.

On Friday, the six rebel union members took the extraordinary step of sending a letter to the RA board declaring they had lost faith in McLennan following a shambolic year for the code.

The disastrous 2023 campaign culminated in the Wallabies’ worst World Cup performance – failing to progress from the group stage – and coach Eddie Jones walking away 10 months into his five-year deal.

The doomed appointment of Jones following the sacking of Dave Rennie in January was seen as a “captain’s pick”, although McLennan claimed the move was supported by the board.

“We do not believe Mr McLennan has been acting in the best interests of our game,” the letter from the state unions read.

“We no longer have any trust or faith in his leadership, or the direction in which he is taking rugby in Australia.”

Initially resisting the call for change, McLennan claimed the states were putting “parochialism and self-interest” ahead of the game.

He said he believed the rebel state unions’ move was directly linked to Queensland and the ACT’s opposition to RA’s procurement of the  commercial arm of their Super franchises as part of the high-performance alignment plans which are underway.

McLennan received the public backing of billionaires Andrew and Nicola Forrest, who own Western Force and therefore constitute one voting member of the Australian Rugby Union.

“Hamish is steering rugby through a very difficult period from the complete mess that he inherited,” Andrew and Nicola Forrest told The Australian in a statement.

“Now is not the time for more disruption in the sport, but a time for rugby to band together and back the proposed centralisation reforms.”

McLennan was appointed RA chairman of in mid-2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic with the code in dire financial straits.

Since then RA has secured hosting rights for the next men’s World Cup in 2027 and the women’s tournament in 2029.

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