Exclusive: Herbert claims ‘steady progress’ in rebuilding trust as RA seeks to avert more board bloodshed at AGM


Rugby Australia Chairman Dan Herbert claims the code’s governing body is making “steady progress” in rebuilding the trust of the Australian rugby community and to “maximise the wonderful opportunities we have in front of us” as the state unions and Super Rugby franchises consider whether to seek more boardroom scalps at the 29 April RA annual general meeting.

Herbert’s pleas for board stability were included in a notice of meeting sent ahead of the AGM obtained exclusively by The Roar, which revealed former Wallaroo and Stan Sport commentator Kristy Giteau could emerge as the first female RA President, working alongside Joe Roff.

The board will be further refreshed with former National Rugby League executive Alexi Baker and Brisbane businessman Hans Pearson nominated to replace CEO Phil Waugh and former chairman Hamish McLennan, who was forced out of the role in November due to concerns over leadership and direction of the game, capped off by the Wallabies World Cup disaster.

In addition, long-serving director Pip Marlow has flagged her departure from the RA board later in the year.

Rugby Australia chairman Dan Herbert has called for stability and says the governing body is making progress. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images for Rugby Australia)

Apart from voting on the appointments of Giteau, Baker and Pearson, the state unions, Brumbies, Western Force and Reds Super Rugby franchises and the Rugby Union Players’ Association will also decide whether incumbent directors Matthew Hanning, Karen Penrose and Jane Wilson are re-elected to the board. The trio will need a two-thirds majority, which means each has to secure 10 out of the total14 votes.

A group known as the Supporters of Australian Rugby Reform – which includes former RA director Geoff Stooke, former Wallaby and inaugural national coaching director Dick Marks and fellow former Wallaby and ex-NSW Rugby committee member Russ Tulloch – last month circulated a nine-page letter calling for board spill at Moore Park and a constitutional review.

In his Chair’s Message, Herbert said: “This Board renewal and our planned transition to Pip’s retirement comes at a pivotal time when the game needs not only strength and stability but also new skills, perspectives and experience to unify the game and to protect rugby’s interests whilst building future value for the code.”

“Off the back of the success of our inaugural Australian Rugby Summit held earlier this year in Melbourne, my fellow directors and I are confident that we are making steady progress in rebuilding your trust in us to deliver our shared aspirations and desired outcomes for Rugby in Australia across the agreed workstreams of Participation, Performance, Promotion and Resourcing.”

“Since the Summit, RA Managing Director & CEO Phil Waugh together with our new Director of High Performance, Peter Horne, and Wallabies Head Coach, Joe Schmidt have been in full swing building a new team to deliver a more cohesive and streamlined high performance system designed to optimise resources and expertise across the country to develop our elite players, with support in terms of the women’s game provided by Jaime Fernandez, our first dedicated Women’s High Performance Manager and Jo Yapp, our first full time Wallaroos Head Coach.

RA CEO Phil Waugh has made a number of significant appointments over the past four months, including the announcement of Joe Schmidt (L) as Wallabies coach and Jo Yapp as Wallaroos coach. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

“I believe the above balance of Board Committees and Steering Committees allows us to direct the necessary expertise and workload to the required areas to sustain the game and to maximise the wonderful opportunities we have in front of us.”

“We are fortunate to have so many talented and hard-working people who are willing to roll up their sleeves to help rugby achieve this. While there’s still lots more work to do, we are making good progress and the RA Board and Management remain committed to working together and collaboratively with all of you to ensure Australian rugby thrives at all levels of the game well into the future.”

Herbert said that if ratified at the AGM, Giteau’s appointment as President would be “an important step in growing and promoting the women’s game and further enhancing our diversity across all our governance structures including our Committees and at Board level ahead of the anticipated release of revised gender equity targets for sports’ governing bodies by the Australian Sports Commission later this month.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.