Hamish McLennan appointed to RA Board

Adrian Warren
Hamish McLennan has been appointed to the Rugby Australia board

Rebuilding the trust of the rugby community and reshaping the local game so it remains financially viable are two of the main challenges facing Hamish McLennan, Rugby Australia's new board member and chairman-elect.

McLennan, who replaces Peter Wiggs following his resignation last week, will officially be welcomed to the board at the June 15 meeting as the game tries to recover from one of its darkest periods.

He chairs several ASX-listed companies and his former corporate roles include CEO, executive chairman and managing director of free-to-air television Network Ten, and executive vice-president, Office of the Chairman at News Corp.

During his time at Ten, McLennan negotiated the Big Bash League rights.

All that high-level experience of media operations should be helpful for RA, which has still to negotiate a new broadcast deal for 2021 and beyond.

"His immediate focus with the board is on ensuring the game navigates the next few months while reshaping the Rugby economy for a sustainable future to ensure the game remains healthy and strong at the community level," current RA chairman Paul McLean said.

"He brings exceptional commercial skills and experience in leading some of the largest and most successful businesses in the country.

"Hamish is also a lifelong rugby man and is passionate about uniting the game and bringing all of its diverse and enthusiastic stakeholders together to drive the game forward."

McLennan says rugby has a deep heritage and strong community support in Australia and the 2027 Rugby World Cup bid creates an enormous opportunity for the country.

"I am looking forward to working with the board to rebuild trust across the rugby community, in particular the grassroots game, to our member unions and the professional code and I am encouraged by the positive signs of collaboration," McLennan said.

The RA board has undergone some significant changes of late in a turbulent period that has coincided with the coronavirius pandemic, which has caused further financial headaches for RA.

The local game reported a provisional $9.4-million loss in March which was followed by the standing down of CEO Raelene Castle in April.

Last week Wiggs, who was widely tipped to become the new chairman after joining the board in late March, resigned.

He quit after his plan to appoint Australian Olympic Committee CEO and former RA deputy CEO Matt Carroll as the new boss without a formal recruitment or interview process, fell through.

Another experienced rugby administrator Rob Clarke was last week appointed interim CEO.

RA also had to contend with a group of 10 former Wallabies captains, who expressed their disenchantment with the way the game was being run.