Australia unions demand chair Hamish McLennan resigns

Six Rugby Australia unions have collectively penned a letter to Chair Hamish McLennan and the Rugby Australia Board, urging his resignation.

The unions, including Queensland, ACT and West Australia, as well as South Australian, Tasmanian and the Northern Territory unions, plan to request an Extraordinary General Meeting to pass a resolution for McLennan’s removal if he does not step down voluntarily.

The signatories consciously did not approach the NSW and Victorian Rugby Unions, citing ongoing negotiations with Rugby Australia.

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Queensland Rugby Chair Brett Clark explained the reasoning behind this decision, saying they have a “duty to protect the reputation of our game.”

The letter has been made public, which outlines why the unions want McLennan to resign.

The letter to the Board states:

“We, the undersigned Member Unions of Rugby Australia, are calling for the Chair, Hamish McLennan, to immediately resign as Chair and Director of Rugby Australia.

We do not believe Mr McLennan has been acting in the best interests of our game.

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

Additionally, we believe Mr McLennan has been acting outside his role as a director, exerting an undue influence on the operations and executives of Rugby Australia.

This is not the best practice governance that we expect from leaders in our game.

Should Mr McLennan not resign, this letter serves as notice for Directors to convene an Extraordinary General Meeting at the earliest possible opportunity, as per clause 4.1c of the Rugby Australia Constitution.

This request is not about opposition to Rugby Australia’s centralisation proposals– we remain committed to supporting high-performance alignment.

This is instead a deep concern about the performance of Mr McLennan as Chair, and the damage done to the game by his performance.

We have not made this decision lightly.

After deliberation and discussion, we decided we must take action in order to protect the reputation and future of our game.

Governance and high-performance sport are about judgement – good judgement.

During the past 12 months Mr McLennan has made a series of calls that have harmed the standing and reputation of our game and led us to question his judgement and his understanding of high-performance sport.

His decisions and “captain’s picks” have directly led to an historic failure at the men’s Rugby World Cup and a Wallabies international ranking at an historic low, with all of the regrettable and public fallout that came with it.

In addition to this, Mr McLennan’s use of player poaching to threaten other sports and boost our own stocks and performance alienates us from having collaborative conversations with the other major sports to improve participation across the Australian community.

It also disenfranchises our budding professional female and community rugby participants, by only focusing on elite men’s participation, which is a small component of our national game.

There has been much discussion about required changes within rugby to improve the overall performance of our national teams.

The member unions are not shying away from this change and can see the long-term benefits that national high-performance alignment can bring.

But this will only happen if we have trust and faith in the leadership at Rugby Australia, and there is a clear strategy that outlines the process to achieve this.

To date, despite months of media speculation and commentary from Rugby Australia, the Board and executive have brought us no substantive strategy or any outline of how centralisation would work.

Over coming years there are a range of opportunities off which our game can prosper, including the British and Irish Lions Tour in 2025, the Mens’ Rugby World Cup in 2027 and the Womens’ Rugby World Cup in 2029.

In order for us to seize these opportunities, our game must focus on growing our participation base in community, schools and women’s rugby.

This will require trust and collaboration across the game.

If we don’t make the necessary changes to the leadership of our game now, these opportunities will be lost and our game will continue to flounder for decades to come.

We are supportive of an independent recruitment process for a new Chair, one that involves consultation with all Constitutional Members.”

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