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Thread: Hamish McLennan puts Rugby Australia on fast track to restructure

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    Hamish McLennan puts Rugby Australia on fast track to restructure

    Hamish McLennan puts Rugby Australia on fast track to restructure

    Wayne Smith
    July 31, 2020

    Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan has brought in a cost-out and restructuring expert to trim up to $15m from the organisation, while at the same time he is working towards major constitutional changes that will usher in an AFL-style commission to administer the game.

    McLennan certainly can’t be accused of letting the grass grow beneath him in the 11 weeks that he has been running the show at RA. Phase one of the restructuring process, the culling of 47 full-time staff members from the 142 who work at headquarters, was carried out within a fortnight of his arrival. That cut $5.5m from the wages bill. Now comes phase two.

    “I’ve brought in Adam Foulsham, an ex-colleague who is a restructuring expert who will look to drive further savings and remove duplication right across RA and the member unions,” McLennan said on Friday. “We’ve set ourselves an internal goal of driving another $15m worth of costs out of the organisation.

    “We need to right the ship and invest every available dollar back into grassroots which the member unions will execute.”

    In his brief 78 days in office, McLennan has played hardball with New Zealand over a 2021 trans-Tasman competition structure while simultaneously investigating a domestic competition, the precursor to going to Fox Sports and others for a new broadcast deal. He has bolstered preparations for Australia’s 2027 World Cup bid by appointing a high-powered group of advisers, and initiated an unhurried but comprehensive search for a new chief executive.

    “But arguably the biggest and most important project is looking at our governance, RA governance, and determining how we can move to a best-in-class model to administer the sport,” he said.

    “In the next three weeks, we will define the process to engage with all stakeholders and then look at small and large changes to our constitution and structure and hope to have it concluded within the next three to five months.”

    In truth, he has already done a lot of “engaging with stakeholders” including, importantly, the two heartland states of NSW and Queensland that effectively contribute about 90 per cent of the nation’s playing strength. The chairs of both bodies, respectively Roger Davis and Jeff Miller, old interstate rivals, are basically of one mind on this: “We want a seat at the table and we don’t want to be ignored any longer.”

    But how to do that without causing Victoria, Western Australia and the ACT to feel they have been neglected? No one said this would be easy.

    Davis also has a few other requests, such as doing away with the “independent” board member who in recent years has been brought onto the RA board precisely because they were expert in some field but had no knowledge at all of rugby. “They were honourable people, fine people, not a criticism of their character, but they knew nothing about the game or the politics or the issues or the history,” Davis said.

    McLennan also has put some of the finest legal and rugby minds to work, with former Rugby Victoria president Tim North QC and former RUPA chairman Bruce Hodgkinson SC being asked to come up with a plan for constitutional change.

    And seemingly there is no such thing as a “free lunch” in a McLennan organisation, with key identities from the “eminent persons” group he set up to advise on the World Cup bid, former governor-general Sir Peter Cosgrove — now a member of the committee set up by World Rugby to review governance on a global scale — and International Olympic Committee vice-president John Coates, both being asked to lend their expertise to the problem.

    Sir Peter, a former RA board member, admitted rugby had a lot to learn from the AFL and the “feudal barons” who ruled over the clubs. “The marriage between these wonderful tribal entities, which are the AFL clubs, and the business model … we now have this monolith,” Sir Peter told The Weekend Australian. “If we (rugby) could garner some of their cultural/corporate success, if there was a lesson for us to learn, why wouldn’t we do it?”

    Aside from holding up the AFL Commission as the best available model for rugby to emulate, with modifications, McLennan isn’t entirely sure what his end goal is. He is not certain, for instance, whether a Rugby Australia commission should be set up to run in parallel with the RA board or as a substitute for it. Nor is he sure whether a separate Super Rugby commission should be set up independently to run that element of the game or whether its function could be embraced by an RAC.

    The answer to that probably will be dictated by New Zealand. If they accept Australia as equal partners in the trans-Tasman venture, with five sides apiece, there may well be a need for a SRC. Otherwise, perhaps not.

    “RA needs to be smaller, nimbler, with a commission-style structure that doesn’t overlap with any of the member unions,” McLennan said. “And it should be responsible for, for example, central contracting, the Wallabies, high performance, management, finance, marketing and sponsorship and such, with a view that we push more resources down to the member unions for grassroots and club management.”

    McLennan has given himself and the organisation about three weeks to determine what process it will use to engage with all stakeholders and gather together their input. “And then we will look at small and large changes to our constitution and structure and hope to have it concluded within the next three to five months.”

    That’s an extraordinarily short time to bring about change that has been bounced around for the past decade, but that is one thing about the COVID-19 crisis: it has brought everything to a head and fast-tracked ideas and proposals that looked to have died in committee years ago.

    What is revolutionary about all this is that the organisation that looks like feeling the most pain is Rugby Australia. The prevailing belief is that RA needs to embrace the states more and if that means sacrifices have to be made at the Moore Park headquarters, so be it. By RA standards, that’s a radical standpoint. Far too often in the past the pain has been shuffled down the chain.

    In a way, that perhaps explains the unhurried pace of the current search for a permanent replacement to Rob Clarke, RA’s interim chief executive. Clarke has stated that he is prepared to stay on until Christmas and that the liberating factor of being an interim appointment is that he is able to make decisions in what he believes are the best interests of the game.

    No doubt there will be many sceptics tut-tutting, most of them based in the west. But clearly he and McLennan feel comfortable working together. And they have taken on more than any CEO and chairman in the history of Australian rugby.

    Wayne Smith
    Senior Sport Writer

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/spo...6cbd2eb57a234f

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    I feel so much happier that Tim North and Rob Clarke are involved with the RA restructure. This provides me with lots of confidence that Australian Rugby is heading in the right direction.

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    Tim North, Rob Clarke -hmmmmm. Wonder if McLennan has a copy of the Senate inquiry as part of due diligence.

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    Considering they got and blew an extra $35M/yr for the last five years, as well as anything they ostensibly saved by cutting the Force, clawing back $20M doesn't seem excessively ambitious. Problem now is it still may leave them with less coming in than going out.

    Good management would have been not to blow it in the first place. Even if they had only put half of that $20M into an NRC, they would still have spent more than 10% extra the rest of the organisation, have a professional domestic competition turning five years old, and have $50M in the bank. Imagine how different that would make the world look now...!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ham105 View Post
    No doubt there will be many sceptics tut-tutting, most of them based in the west. But clearly he and McLennan feel comfortable working together. And they have taken on more than any CEO and chairman in the history of Australian rugby.
    Ok, it's all good everyone. You can pack up and go home, they feel comfortable working together so there's nothing to see here.

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    I'm sure Mr North will get copies of all confidential agreements left on his desk by Mr Clarke. Oh no that was Mr North's secretary on her way to the photocopy machine wasn't it. Mr McLennan please refer to the Senate inquiry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by maelkann View Post
    Ok, it's all good everyone. You can pack up and go home, they feel comfortable working together so there's nothing to see here.
    Haha. I imagine Adolf Hitler and Martin Bormann were comfortable working together too. So not a terribly encouraging observation from Wayne there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shasta View Post
    Haha. I imagine Adolf Hitler and Martin Bormann were comfortable working together too. So not a terribly encouraging observation from Wayne there.
    What sort of world is this , after all that has happened , when those sorts of people still wield the power ?
    ( referring to north and clarke of course )
    I fear we are tied to the domestic comp for 2o21 now ,( COVID realism ) , with far less bargaining power , dealing with the same lowlife

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    Quote Originally Posted by wallabydarnd View Post
    I fear we are tied to the domestic comp for 2o21 now ,( COVID realism ) , with far less bargaining power , dealing with the same lowlife
    I agree that we're tied to RA for 2021, I don't necessarily agree about reduced bargaining power. RA are broke as a 2 bob watch. Twiggy is their only realistic funding option and the media trumpets all know it, why do you think the force are consistently hyped without notching up a win. The shameless pandering to his ego while fishing in his hip pocket to steal his wallet would be Rob Clarke 101. Twiggy just needs to realise that, despite the shuffling of deckchairs and the pleasant sounding words, the underlying nature of rugby's governing body hasn't changed a bit. That is ably evidenced by Tim North being entrusted with writing a new governance model. This is a move that will guarantee the hegemony continues and the only change will be an even three way split of power between the 3 eastern states unions.

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    C'mon the

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    We start GRR Australia - simples.

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    Tim North. Two words that are enough to make me want to pick up the phone to Andrew Forrest to tell him NOT to do any business with RA and to stay right away from Super Rugby AU post 2020.

    Wonder if North came highly recommended by his fellow miscreant, Clarke?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alison View Post
    Wonder if North came highly recommended by his fellow miscreant, Clarke?
    Well Clarke and mclennan DO respect each other. I would assume Clarke's advice is regarded highly

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    C'mon the

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    Quote Originally Posted by volvo View Post
    I feel so much happier that Tim North and Rob Clarke are involved with the RA restructure. This provides me with lots of confidence that Australian Rugby is heading in the right direction.
    Australian Rugby always two steps forward and ten steps back. We have gone from one of the richest unions to one of the poorest in ten years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alison View Post
    Tim North. Two words that are enough to make me want to pick up the phone to Andrew Forrest to tell him NOT to do any business with RA and to stay right away from Super Rugby AU post 2020.

    Wonder if North came highly recommended by his fellow miscreant, Clarke?
    For the sake of Aus Rugby just ring Twiggy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alison View Post
    Tim North. Two words that are enough to make me want to pick up the phone to Andrew Forrest to tell him NOT to do any business with RA and to stay right away from Super Rugby AU post 2020.

    Wonder if North came highly recommended by his fellow miscreant, Clarke?
    Unfortunately due to Covid 19 and the associated travel restrictions, I can't see anything more than an Australian completion going ahead.

    It looks like it will be Super Rugby AU or sitting out and doing nothing in 2021.

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