Rugby Australia boss given stay of execution after unions demand his resignation

Colin Newboult
Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan alongside chief executive Phil Waugh in 2023.

Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan alongside chief executive Phil Waugh in 2023.

Hamish McLennan has been handed an extra 24 hours by the unions to consider his future as Rugby Australia chairman.

Six member unions, led by behemoths Queensland, have called on McLennan to step down in the wake of the Wallabies’ disastrous Rugby World Cup.

ACT Rugby, Rugby WA, NT Rugby, Tasmania Rugby and South Australia Rugby are supporting the motion which was presented to the chairman on Friday night.


He was initially given until 5pm on Saturday to resign but, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, that has been moved back by 24 hours after RA asked the six states for an extension.

McLennan has so far resisted calls to vacate his position and is determined to carry on.

“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 Herald.

“This is about principles. They are actually not putting the game first and it’s about self-interest and parochialism.”

If the chairman fails to relinquish his role, the states are expected to call an extraordinary general meeting, which will determine his fate.

“We do not believe Mr McLennan has been acting in the best interests of our game,” Friday’s letter read.

“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.”

Series of bad decisions

McLennan has played a key role in what has been a dreadful 12 months for the Wallabies, culminating in a pool stage exit at the World Cup.

The chairman played a significant part in the decision to sack Dave Rennie and hire Eddie Jones, who would preside over just two wins in charge.

Jones was 10 months into a five-year contract when he decided to resign after the global tournament, citing issues within Rugby Australia for his departure.

McLennan also helped negotiate the deal for talented rugby league youngster Joseph Suaalii, a move which was reportedly not popular with Australian rugby union players.

The outspoken chairman insisted that they would continue to lure league players to the 15-a-side code, but chief executive Phil Waugh abruptly put an end to that during the week.

“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,” the unions’ letter added.

“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 (of No.9 in the world) at an historic low, with all of the regrettable and public fallout that came with it.”

READ MORE: Rugby Australia chairman pushed to step down after Rugby World Cup disaster