Hamish McLennan appointed new Rugby Australia chairman

Hamish McLennan has been appointed the new chairman of Rugby Australia, taking over from interim boss Paul McLean.

The former News Corp and Channel 10 executive has joined the governing body a week after Rob Clarke was appointed interim chief executive.

Mr McLennan is the chairman of media organisation REA Group and has previously been the deputy chair of Magellan Financial Group.

The appointment comes after weeks of shuffling at the top of Rugby Australia.

Peter Wiggs had been poised to take over the role of chairman but resigned last week after a failed attempt to install Australian Olympic Committee boss Matt Carroll as chief executive.

In a statement on the Rugby Australia website, Mr McLennan said a bid for the 2027 World Cup would be one of his objectives.

“I am looking forward to working with the board to rebuild trust across the rugby community, in particular the grassroots game, to our member unions and the professional code and I am encouraged by the positive signs of collaboration,” Mr McLennan said.

“Rugby has a deep heritage and strong community support in Australia, and everyone wants to see our Wallabies consistently win again. I think the Rugby World Cup bid for 2027 creates an enormous opportunity for the country.”

Raelene Castle looks towards the camera with a neutral expression on her face

Raelene Castle looks towards the camera with a neutral expression on her face

Raelene Castle resigned as chief executive of Rugby Australia earlier this year, are facing heavy scrutiny.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

Former chief executive Raelene Castle stepped down last month after losing the support of the board.

A number of former Wallabies captains had also sent a letter to the executive demanding a change in administration, saying the sport had “lost its way”.

Mr McLennan takes over with Rugby Australia yet to secure a broadcast rights deal for 2021.

Rugby Australia’s deal with Foxtel expires at the end of the year.

Fox Sports has broadcast Super Rugby for over two decades, but the media organisation and rugby’s governing body have not been able to reach a deal.

Rugby Australia wants to package all rugby games, including Wallabies Tests, Super Rugby, Sydney’s Shute Shield and Queensland Premier Rugby in a new deal.

Ms Castle had wanted to test the market, with telecoms provider Optus Sport rumoured to be interested in streaming the competition.

The appointment comes as Rugby Australia accepted a financial relief package from the sport’s international body.

World Rugby will loan the Australian-body $14.2 million, as it battles the economic hardships brought by coronavirus.

“Our game has suffered an enormous impact globally from COVID-19 and we are very grateful for the support of World Rugby,” Mr Clarke said.

“The funding, in combination with the extensive cuts made across the business, provides us with the short-term impetus to see through the pandemic but does not solve all of the challenges.”

Rugby Australia hopes to get Super Rugby teams back playing soon, announcing its intention to launch a domestic competition with the four Super Rugby teams, and the Western Force, by the end of July.