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Thread: O'Neill in wings as Flowers departs

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    O'Neill in wings as Flowers departs

    O'Neill in wings as Flowers departs

    Rupert Guinness and Greg Growden
    Friday, April 13, 2007


    Gary Flowers's rocky reign as the head of the Australian Rugby Union will end on December 31, which could open the way for the return of John O'Neill to the game's administerial ranks.

    Flowers will make an official statement confirming his decision at a press conference at the ARU offices in Sydney today. For Flowers it will be Black Friday.

    It is understood that Flowers, who has often been under pressure during his three-year tenure, during which he was repeatedly criticised for lack of leadership, made his decision to leave about two weeks ago.

    An ARU source last night told the Herald that Flowers had thought "long and hard" about leaving the ARU, and was aware of the mounting criticism of him.

    However, the source also said that Flowers felt he had achieved his goals since taking over as ARU chief executive in June 2004.

    "He had intended to make a statement at next week's ARU annual general meeting, but has now wanted to bring that forward," the ARU source said. "It is a major decision, and one that Gary has made with his family."

    Flowers has yet to confirm his future after he leaves the ARU, but the Herald understands that he wants to pursue a career in the business world.

    However, Flowers's sudden departure will surprise the rugby world, as many felt that his critics would beat him to the punch by forcing him to leave. Flowers struggled to win support with many NSW and Queensland officials, who were deeply concerned about his inability to show strong leadership on pressing issues - the most recent being when Reds coach Eddie Jones and Wallabies coach John Connolly had a public spat. Dwindling morale at ARU headquarters in Crows Nest had also become a concern. The Herald was told that this week, a number of ARU board directors held a secret meeting, where Flowers's future was discussed at length. It is understood that several directors decided that they should not extend Flowers's contract beyond December 31. Whether the directors had passed that dramatic news on to Flowers is unknown.

    Flowers has long been compared to his predecessor, O'Neill, and it is known that those comparisons deeply hurt Flowers, who is a far more conciliatory figure than the often larger-than-life O'Neill.

    Who takes over from Flowers will become the big issue, and it could easily revolve around whether Arvid Petersen replaces ARU chairman Ron Graham.

    If Petersen, who is the NSW nominee to replace Graham on the ARU board, takes the chairman's spot, there could be radical changes at ARU headquarters.

    The most obvious replacement for Flowers is O'Neill, who had a high profile during his years as the ARU's head, with one of his major successes being the running of the 2003 World Cup in Australia. However, O'Neill also gradually lost the support of several ARU powerbrokers, prompting his departure to Football Federation Australia. Several of those powerbrokers have since departed the ARU.

    When contacted by the Herald last night, O'Neill would not comment on whether he was interested in returning to his former job at the ARU.

    "The news about Gary comes as a complete surprise, and I wish him well in his future endeavours," O'Neill said last night. "My position is as it was last January. My affection for rugby is unabated. If the right opportunity came to assist rugby, I would consider it. At this juncture no such opportunity has arisen. So it's not a discussion we need to have."

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    What I want to know is why there is an automatic association between Flowers departing and O'Neill needing/wanting to come back?
    Surely there are other contenders for this business position than two men?
    Smacks of a bit of agenda to me, certain aspects of the Sydney media have hounded Flowers from day one and now appear to be backing going back to the future.
    If Australian business doesn't have the capacity to produce a new, dynamic and independently thinking CEO with a sporting knowledge then this country is truly in the s h i t/p o o p /poo-poo/fluff or whatever Coach wants to censor it to read!

    Let's try those words in the same order: poo-poo fluff poo-poo fluff

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burgs
    If Australian business doesn't have the capacity to produce a new, dynamic and independently thinking CEO with a sporting knowledge then.........
    ..........after the same type of diligent recruiting strategy as was used by RugbyWA a couple years back, re-appoint the man with the fantastic track record, who never should have got shafted in the first place. If it's broke fix it -if you can't get a better one.

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    The rub is that absence is making the heart grow fonder for some involved in the media and Rugby politics shasta.
    There were plenty that had the craps (I'll try that one ) with O'Neill too and right now I think (as with the Coach) we need someone from outside who is un tarnished and without baggage.
    Personally I think he did a great job but I am also pretty aware that we need to be looking forward, not backwards.
    To me, O'Neill would be better served going through into the Board level rather than CEO, we would be paying a Chairman’s wage for him in any case!

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    Veteran Sagerian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shasta
    ..........after the same type of diligent recruiting strategy as was used by RugbyWA a couple years back, re-appoint the man with the fantastic track record, who never should have got shafted in the first place. If it's broke fix it -if you can't get a better one.
    here here.


    Didn't O'Neill just commit elsewhere though?

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burgs
    we need someone from outside who is un tarnished and without baggage.

    To me, O'Neill would be better served going through into the Board level rather than CEO, we would be paying a Chairman’s wage for him in any case!
    My reply didn't disagree there, Burgs. Qualified it with "if nobody better puts his hand up".

    I wouldn't like to see J o'N persented the job on a platter. Also after thinking about his possible election as Chairman I wonder if the next CEO might end up a "lame duck". I doubt he'd be a passive Chairman.

    OTOH, I also don't think he'd be a backroom spoiler. He'd be up front. At least that would be a welcome change to the usual machinations.

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    Legend Contributor Thequeerone's Avatar
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    JON is going through the process of going onto the TAB board - has some legal stuff to learn /pass a test on before he becomes a bookmaker
    Heh did we ever make TG do some training/induction for his post !

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    Crikey, we don't to make Gerry any MORE successful TQ1

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    Senior Player Contributor WF2006's Avatar
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    If Flowers is going, this is the best Rugby news I've heard all week. As someone with only an outsiders view of rugby, the departure of O'Neill has signalled the steady decline in administrative capabilities. The ARU seems to have bumbled from one disaster to the next, culminating in the Tiquiri/Tahu vs Staniforth/Fava/Gerrard/Rathbone pay related screw ups.

    Good riddance to Flowers. O'Neill is a proven performer, though you're right there must be others.

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    Well... Tuqiri, Sailor, Rogers, et al were signed in the O'Neill era, it's a it of a stretch to suggest the man controlled every decision and walked on water.

    What he did do was set up Rugby in the minds of people in this country as a great game that was the next best thing for every man and his dog to follow. The final steps of which never occured post RWC 2003 due to O'Neill moving on (although better terms could be applied here).


    I'd love to see him return but I'm skeptical he will.

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    Senior Player Contributor WF2006's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sagerian
    Well... Tuqiri, Sailor, Rogers, et al were signed in the O'Neill era, it's a it of a stretch to suggest the man controlled every decision and walked on water.
    Thanks for not picking on my dreadful spelling of Lote's surname Sage!

    I wasn't trying to imply he was the one who controlled all the decisions, but a strong leader enables a strong organisation. In my opinion, the ARU are currently weak, with weak leadership. I wasn't following Rugby as seriously back then (Tuqiri, Sailor, Rogers, et al time) so maybe I'm not as aware of the negative impacts of these actions. I am aware that these signing ended up in Stanners moving offshore, so I'm guessing there may have been others as well.

    From an overarching and distant point of view, Rugby under O'Neill SEEMED to grow and now under Flowers, it SEEMS to have shrunk.

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    Hehe that's ok.. We sometimes even go to the trouble of pronouncing his first name correctly... but not often.

    Quote Originally Posted by WF2006
    From an overarching and distant point of view, Rugby under O'Neill SEEMED to grow and now under Flowers, it SEEMS to have shrunk.
    Absolutely agreed

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