Rugby Australia's new boss
NEWS: Former Brumbies and Melbourne Rebels chief executive Rob Clarke has been appointed interim CEO of Rugby Australia.
Interim CEO Rob Clarke, who is back at Rugby Australia for a good time not a long time, promising a ruthless competition review and to stamp out the “factions and frustrations” that have plagued the code.
Clarke accepted the short-term post from executive chairman Paul McLean on Wednesday night, almost two weeks after Raelene Castle vacated the job.
The former Australian Rugby Union chief operating officer won’t vie for the position fulltime though, which looked to be Australian Olympic Committee boss Matt Carroll’s before his friend and would-be chairman Peter Wiggs resigned from the board on Wednesday.
Clarke jumped straight in on Thursday, confident of a July Super Rugby return once the government clears RA’s plans.
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“We’re well-positioned for when the restrictions are lifted and will enable us to get rugby played at both a community level and a professional level as soon as we possibly can,” he said.
Clarke hopes to speak to incoming Wallabies coach Dave Rennie on Friday and is eager to conduct a “complete review” of Super Rugby in 2020 and beyond.
First, he must gain a full understanding of RA’s finances and resuscitate an administration that has taken hits countless blows since he last worked there three years ago.
In the days before Castle’s demise, 10 former Wallabies captains publicly demanded swift administrative change, while in the latest ugly episode dramatic exit of Wiggs was detailed in an email exchange with McLean published in the media.
Describing himself as “open and transparent”, Clarke said he understood the challenges that came with the job and was ready to face them again.
“I don’t think they’ll have a problem in letting me know what their thoughts are and I’ll have an open ear,” he said of the former captains.
“We have to unify our game and the factions and frustrations that go with that just impede progress.
“I love the game … it’s a part of me and when you love something and you see it hurting you want to try and do your bit, so that’s why I’m here.”
A Super Rugby devoid of South African and the Jaguares of Argentina has been a common concept floated by current and former Australian players and coaches since the coronavirus epidemic halted the season.
SANZAAR is standing firm in its long-term ambition of a widespread 14-team league that includes South Africa and Argentina.
But Clarke, key in the decision to remove Western Force from the competition, said nothing was off the table as cash-strapped RA hunts a new broadcast deal.
“The old adage in business of never wasting a crisis is very apposite for our game now,” he said.
“There is definitely cause for a complete review … if there’s a better time to do it I don’t know what it would be.”
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