Former Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan has called out the “smear campaign” that led to his ousting late on Sunday night, adamant the game remains “broken”.
McLennan, who had defied calls to step down in the wake of the failed Wallabies World Cup campaign and the resignation of coach Eddie Jones less than a year into a five-year-deal, was forced out after six member unions declared they “no longer have any trust or faith in his leadership”.
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He was replaced by Daniel Herbert as RA chairman and immediately resigned from the board. On Monday morning, he said he believed the move was a play from the state unions about “money and control”.
“I think this is all about money and control at the end of the day, so we’ll see how it plays out. I just think there’s no doubt there’s been a co-ordinated campaign to smear me,” he told 2GB’s Ben Fordham on Monday morning.
“The results of the World Cup were pretty poor, but I think we’ve got to look at the underlying reasons and the fact is the system’s broken, and we’ve got to fix it.”
The rebel group, which comprised the Queensland, ACT, West Australian, Tasmanian, South Australian and Northern Territory rugby unions – had moved to oust McLennan and jointly sent letters of no confidence to the RA chairman and the RA board.
“We do not believe Mr McLennan has been acting in the best interests of our game,” the state unions’ letter to the RA board said.
“We no longer have any trust or faith in his leadership or the direction in which he is taking rugby in Australia.”
McLennan was appointed RA chairman in mid-2020 with the code in dire financial straits and helped secured hosting rights for the next men’s World Cup in 2027 and the women’s tournament in 2029.
But his decision to appoint Jones for a second time proved disastrous, and the Wallabies failed to make the quarter-finals at the World Cup for the first time in history.
Herbert, who played 67 Tests for Australia, and was a part of the Wallabies teams that won the 1999 World Cup, 2001 British and Irish Lions series, The Rugby Championship and five straight Bledisloe Cups, declared reform was coming.
“It has never been more important for the Rugby Australia board, working with member unions, to come together and execute the reform we absolutely need for an aligned high-performance system and to deliver on the commitments we have made, including to invest in community and women’s rugby,” Herbert said in a statement.
“The reform we progress now will underpin the competitiveness of our national teams as well as building deeper engagement with the rugby community and fans everywhere.”
Source website: www.foxsports.com.au