Phil Kearns asserts that attacking beleaguered Rugby Australia Chairman Hamish McLennan won’t resolve the issues, arguing that the states are impeding progress. Following a hectic 24 hours, the RA board hastily convened to deliberate McLennan’s future after six member unions demanded his resignation. This call came after Queensland Rugby Union Chairman Brett Clark informed McLennan that he had lost the majority of the member unions’ support on Friday night. Rejecting Clark’s request to step aside, McLennan accused the member unions of prioritizing parochialism over unity and centralization.
Subsequently, six member unions issued a statement calling for McLennan to resign, citing grave concerns about his performance as Chair. McLennan, who took up the position in 2020, has sought to implement reforms such as aligning the high-performance and commercial portfolios of the Super Rugby franchises with RA. However, discord remains among the franchises, particularly regarding the extent of this alignment. The decision to appoint Eddie Jones as Wallabies coach has backfired and brought McLennan further criticism, while he has also been reprimanded by ACT Rugby for questioning their financial stability amidst RA’s push for centralization.
According to Kearns, McLennan has achieved many beneficial off-field outcomes, including averting administration, securing a television deal, and securing sponsorship. Additionally, Kearns believes that the member unions have lost sight of what is best for Australian rugby by demanding McLennan’s removal. He argues that the states are the ones hindering progress, citing their resistance to change and their concern for their own power. Kearns, who was involved in RA’s World Cup bid, contends that further infighting will continue if McLennan is ousted, perpetuating the ongoing cycle of turmoil in Australian rugby.