A Wallaby legend has asked for his name to be removed from a controversial letter penned by 11 former Australia captains that has asked for change at the top of Rugby Australia. Former flyhalf great Michael Lynagh says he wasn’t fully briefed on the document, which caused a stir this week in Australian rugby circles.
World Cup-winning captain Nick Farr-Jones is understood to be the driving force behind an extraordinary vote-of-no-confidence letter delivered to RA boss Raelene Castle and the board on Tuesday.
Fellow former Test captains George Gregan, Stirling Mortlock, George Smith, Michael Lynagh, Simon Poidevin, Stephen Moore, Jason Little, Rod McCall, Nathan Sharpe and Phil Kearns – a leading candidate to take over from Castle – have also signed the letter.
Tellingly, though, dual World Cup winners John Eales and Tim Horan as well as grand slam-winning Wallabies captain Andrew Slack were among those ex-skippers not to sign it.
Now Lynagh has said he wants his name removed from the letter, as he says he wasn’t fully briefed on its eventual contents.
“This is not the way I do things and I have withdrawn from the whole thing,” he told The Australian newspaper.
“It doesn’t mean I don’t support the change but I had quite a few questions about what they were proposing. [RA] now have a new chairman and three new board members. They have got to be allowed to implement change.”
Responding to the letter, Rugby Australia has said they are open to discussing the game with the now 10 disgruntled former skippers.
“Rugby Australia has today received a letter signed by 11 Wallabies captains raising their concerns over how the game has been administered in recent years,” RA said in a statement on Tuesday night.
“Rugby Australia respects and values the opinions of these former Wallabies leaders and statesmen and has welcomed the group to meet with the board at its earliest convenience.
“Rugby Australia also welcomes the involvement of the group in its current process to review the rugby landscape as it navigates the effects of the global COVID-19 health and economic crisis.”
Former Wallabies captain and RA chairman Paul McLean said he had been in contact with a member of the group on Tuesday and offered to arrange a meeting with the full board as soon as was “reasonably practicable”.
“These are respected former Wallabies captains and the board would value their input as we work through the challenges that rugby has faced over the last few years and that have been amplified by the coronavirus pandemic,” McLean said.
“The board is also prepared to work with the group to provide them access to the information requested in the letter.
“The board had commenced the process of establishing a review group to investigate a whole of rugby review that includes professional rugby, semi-professional rugby, and community rugby.
“The board would welcome the input of the signatories of the letter into the review process.
“It is intended that input for the review would be sought from a wide range of stakeholders including current and former players.
“Now is the time for us to come together in the interests of the entire rugby community.”
– additional reporting AAP
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