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Defiant RA boss McLennan granted 24-hour reprieve

3 minute read

Hamish McLennan doesn't plan to quit as chair of Rugby Australia despite a demand from six of his own member unions to do so.

Embattled Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan has been handed a deadline extension to consider his future as leader of the sport's governing body.

McLennan, who has vowed to continue in the position, had been given an ultimatum to step down by 5pm on Saturday.

Led by powerhouse Queensland, six member unions sent a letter to McLennan and RA's board demanding his resignation after a calamitous year that culminated in the Wallabies crashing out of the World Cup at the group stage for the first time.

But a RA board meeting on Saturday asked the six states for a 24-hour extension of the deadline, according to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald.

The extension was granted and if McLennan refuses to fall on his sword on Sunday, the six member unions are expected to request an extraordinary general meeting of RA to pass a resolution to remove him.

The signatories to the letter also included ACT Rugby, Rugby WA, NT Rugby, Tasmania Rugby and South Australia Rugby.

The NSW and Victorian bodies were not approached to sign because of ongoing negotiations with RA.

McLennan, who has been contacted by AAP for comment, has reportedly said he plans to fight to hold on to his position.

"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 Sydney Morning Herald.

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

The dramatic turn of events continues a tumultuous period for Australian rugby, with their woes highlighted by a disastrous World Cup campaign overseen by coach Eddie Jones who has since departed.

The sacking of coach Dave Rennie and appointment of Jones, which some dubbed as McLennan's 'captain's pick', proved to be an utter failure.

McLennan also came under fire for contracting young NRL star Joseph-Aukuso Sua'ali'i in a deal reportedly worth $4.8 million, putting many current Test players off-side.

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

"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."

The six unions calling for McLennan's resignation say they are not opposed to RA's centralisation proposals but want a new leader to oversee the transition.

"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 letter states.

"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."

The six unions fear if RA can't capitalise on the British and Irish Lions Tour in 2025, the men's World Cup in 2027 and the women's World Cup in 2029, it could cripple the sport.

"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," the letter adds.

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