Incoming Rugby Australian chairman Hamish McLennan wants the game played at a faster pace and has targeted the ailing Super Rugby competition as a major priority.
McLennan who on Friday was announced as a new director and chairman-elect, will officially be welcomed to the RA board at their June 15 meeting.
His credentials include chairing several ASX-listed companies and formerly being CEO, executive chairman and managing director of Network Ten, and one of Rupert Murdoch’s right-hand men at News Corp.
McLennan joins the RA board at a difficult time for the organisation, though it’s financial issues were eased slightly by Friday’s announcement of $14.2 million of funding from World Rugby.
“We have to look at our cost bases and just remain scrappy over the next 18 months to two years but we will be lean,” McLennan told AAP.
“It will be a very challenging time over the next year or two.”
RA saved some money by reducing Australia’s Super Rugby representation from five teams to four after the 2017 season.
Western Force, the club who were cut, are tipped to participate alongside the four remaining Australian teams in a Super Rugby replacement competition set to start in July.
Whether RA can afford to continue supporting four Super teams remains to be seen, though McLennan suggested that remained their objective.
“I haven’t started yet, but obviously I’d like to stick with four,” he said,
“We just need to look at what the domestic competition looks like for this year, but you can’t shrink your way to greatness.”
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The Super Rugby format is due to revert from a conference system to a round robin in 2021.
“I think everything is on the table is my sense, but again we’d need to talk to all the members of SANZAAR and our partners and then make some decisions,” McLennan said.
“The immediate priority is what do we do with Super Rugby
“I think within what we can manage we can just focus on some sensible law changes and make the game a little bit quicker and therefore more exciting, then hopefully we can re-engage our audiences.”.
He approves of the idea of a scrum clock, mooted as an innovation for the upcoming competition.
“I think if we can get through the scrum clock alone we will start to loosen the game up. It will be a major step forward for us,” McLennan said.
Restoring unity is another priority for McLennan as he strives to inject some positivity back into the divided code.
Embarrassing leaks from board meetings and the grievances of ten former Wallabies captains over how the game has been run, have added to the negativity surrounding the game.
“The lack of unity has really hurt the game of late,” McLennan said
“We represent a broad church but we have to get all of our members aligned and we won’t be able to move forward until we do that.”
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