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Thread: Blow up rugby’s ‘rotten’ governance, says Andrew Forrest

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    Blow up rugby’s ‘rotten’ governance, says Andrew Forrest



    Billionaire and Western Force owner Andrew Forrest has called for Rugby Australia to bring in an AFL-style commission to end a run of "rotten governance" that now sees the code $10m in debt.

    Forrest is optimistic the game could rival the AFL, and become profitable again, but only if it goes through a major constitutional overhaul that would do away with the current Rugby Australia board model.

    In an exclusive interview with The Weekend Australian, the Fortescue chairman slammed years of "shocking governance" and "poor judgment". Rugby Australia has endured years of tumult including the controversial ousting of the Western Force, blowing $500m over the last four years and all the while neglecting the game’s dying grassroots.

    "We started to lose touch with our shareholders, our boys and girls and mums and dads. They‘re the real owners of the game, when we started to lose touch with them and just consider ourselves as the rugby leaders, as the rugby board, the rugby administration," Forrest said.

    "When you started to do rotten corporate governance like structure things so board appointments could only really be made by the chairman — so at the end of the day it was one person’s rule — that is just shocking governance."

    "I saw what was happening there and I saw the poor judgment. And you could put it down easily to that they’d lost touch for the shareholders, they’d lost touch with the mums and dads that were no longer there for the good of the game or the more importantly, the good of the players and the good of the supporters, particularly the parents."

    "They were there for themselves or they were there for the preservation of the board. Whatever argument they put up, they were no longer there for the boys and girls and mums and dads."

    Forrest believes the eastern states of Queensland and NSW have too much influence on major rugby decisions and too often "go to war" about issues off the field. In turn the off-field drama distracts from the game’s true issues; and they are not adequately addressed or are neglected entirely.

    "(It is currently) a competition which is weighed down by secular interest, by one state fighting with another state, but a constitution which actively provides a mechanism for building the sport across Australia from the ground up," Forrest said. "You will see Australia return to one of the greatest rugby nations in the world, and you’ll see the fans, the mums and dads flock to it. But we’ve got to get that grassroots right."

    "We need another constitution. Our current constitution has allowed a chairman to unilaterally select directors.

    "That would be OK if he or she owned the game. But they don’t. They should only act for the public."

    The Wallabies have sunk to No 7 in the world, their worst ever ranking. There’s a major concern about how the code will engage the next generation of footballers as the AFL, soccer and the NRL maintain a grip on the junior markets. Still, Forrest, Australia’s most successful businessmen, believes the game can be profitable and popular again.

    "This game could be as popular as the AFL," Forrest said. "It needs to change. It needs to have visionary leaders. It needs to have a new constitution and it needs to build it from the grassroots."

    "We will never create one of the most popular sports in Australia just by backing the most senior talent and by taxing the grassroots. We’ve got to build it as Aussie Rules is done, as soccer’s done from the grassroots up. And we have the vision to be patient and have the character strength to have the vision.

    Forrest made it clear he is supportive of the current RA chairman and CEO. Current chair Hamish McLennan floated the idea of changing the constitution last year in an interview with The Australian.

    "I’m delighted with the new direction and work being done by the new chairman Hamish McLennan and recently appointed CEO Andy Marinos," he said. "I support the new direction and note Hamish doesn’t take a cent from the organisation and has really put his back into the gigantic task ahead."

    But he says now is the time to make change.

    "We need a national constitution equal to, if not better, as the best in the world. I don’t say world class. I say something which is world leading," he said.

    "That’s what our game deserves. That’s what Australia deserves. And that’s the opportunity. With a new chairman, a new chief executive, when the sport is on its knees, when the administration is broke, you can logically say to vested interests, well, we have no choice. We need to act for the good of the game now, not for vested interests, not for a single state.

    "(A constitution) which really encourages the kids from everywhere to get involved in the game, encourages administrators at the local level and at the state level and at the senior level to always think on behalf of the mums and dads and the boys and girls. And if we stay focused, then great players who are loyal to our country will emerge.

    "And I feel that we’ve lost so many great players overseas because they just look at the codswallop of the last several years and just thought, ‘well, I’m going to play overseas. At least I will be appreciated overseas’. We have to bring them back and grow our own game."

    The last time the RA constitution was overhauled was in 2012, when members voted to adopt a new governance model following recommendations from the Strengthening the Governance of Australian Rugby report, conduced by the former federal sports minister Mark Arbib (the Arbib Review).

    To change the corporate governance structure a vote would have to be taken and 75 per cent of rugby stakeholders would have to agree with making a change. Queensland and NSW have the most voting rights of all involved.

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/spo...84f62709#coral

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    I'd be somewhat wary of copying AFL, if only because it is structured quite differently as a sport. The main thing for mine needs to be that administration of the amateur and professional games need to be separated. Neither is any good at running the other, and it ends up with one size fucks up everything.

    Personally, I'd like to see RA running all of the code and directly the amateur game, but the professional game run as a task-specific organisation. They would ultimately work for RA though, with their pay tied very closely to how well they perform at their primary measure - returning income to the amateur code.

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    Looks like this is under serious consideration. Even if it has taken the Australian game to be on the brink of a financial financial abyss to get it to the table. I'm wary of it as a way forward; but it seems to be pretty widespread in pro sports these days. I suppose it means the separation of the amateur and professional games? So there would need to be some cast iron checks and balances in place to ease my unease - the last overhaul of governance seemed to make things worse than the previous gerrymander, admittedly due to corrupt power brokers rather than the intent of the actual recommendations.

    How private equity could secure the financial future of Rugby Australia

    Rugby Australia will use tens of millions of dollars from a sale to private equity to create a war chest that will ensure the game never nears bankruptcy again.

    Jolted by the impact COVID-19 had on the game last year, chairman Hamish McLennan told the Herald RA would not make the same mistake as the former ARU administration, which spent the $40 million profit from the 2003 World Cup.........................

    ...........................The proposed sale of the game’s commercial rights would change the face of Australian rugby on two fronts.
    First, it would provide an unprecedented cash injection for a code that was brought to its knees at the beginning of the pandemic. But perhaps just as important for McLennan would be the potential for constitutional change that would result in the removal of the RA board and the creation of an AFL-style commission.

    https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-u...19-p57c9k.html

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    I still wouldn't trust the Roger Davis's of the world if rugby Australia had zero influence on the professional game, they would seek even greater power over the amateur game and continue to peddle the fiction that the shute shield is the pinnacle of Australian eugby

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    I hope that they bring back the NRC, or something similar, as well.

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    Proudly Western Australian; Proudly supporting Western Australian rugby

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    I really liked the line from Qld "between us and nsw there's 80% of the market"

    On the eve of a historic clash between the two powerhouses at the biggest stadium in NSW attended by family, friends and one guy who thought he was going to an AC DC concert

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    Quote Originally Posted by GIGS20 View Post
    I really liked the line from Qld "between us and nsw there's 80% of the market"

    On the eve of a historic clash between the two powerhouses at the biggest stadium in NSW attended by family, friends and one guy who thought he was going to an AC DC concert
    No way in hell could anyone have mistaken the Waratahs game for an AC/DC concert.

    They would have got back on the train when they saw nobody in the stadium precinct.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shasta View Post
    ...How private equity could secure the financial future of Rugby Australia...
    The only way they could make things worse than they are now would be to put the whole code in the hands of an AFL type commission, run by the same idiots as now, but with no actual responsibility to the amateur game. The game needs to look back to its roots, when the 'professional' game was run for the benefit of the amateur game. They would need to pay the players now of course, but the only other real beneficiary (and owner) should be the amateur code. Instead, they seem to be doubling down on the original mistake and allowing everything to be entirely about and for the professional game, prepared to bleed everything else dry.

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    However the governing body is structured, the success of the grass roots depends on the focus of the appointed commissioners. Against serious opposition from the navel gazers at some entrenched Melbourne clubs, the AFL have relentlessly persued junior development and support of expansion clubs. The RA and NRL have had their pants pulled down big time. If only....

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    Quote Originally Posted by jargan83 View Post
    No way in hell could anyone have mistaken the Waratahs game for an AC/DC concert.They would have got back on the train when they saw nobody in the stadium precinct.
    FairI'll edit my comment to something more appropriateThe Wiggles .... NoThe bodyrockers .... NoThe local grateful dead tribute band .... NoA dead seagull falling on a drum kit .... Still too popularI can't think of anything appropriate, I'll just leave it

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