Rugby Australia ‘actively’ in market for new headline sponsor after Harvey Norman pulls pin

Rugby Australia is suffering in the fallout of a boardroom coup that saw businessman Hamish McLennan axed as chairman of the board this past weekend after three years in the role.

Harvey Norman is the first major sponsor to pull the pin on the code, with a spokesperson telling The Australian that the home retailer would not be renewing its contract with Rugby Australia after it expires at the end of next month.

In a statement shared with Mumbrella, a Rugby Australia spokesperson said the organisation wished to “thank Harvey Norman for its enthusiastic support of Rugby over the last three years”, confirming that Rugby Australia was in market and “actively involved in discussions for a replacement”.

Mumbrella has contacted Harvey Norman for comment.

McLennan’s demise came to light earlier this week after six of Rugby Australia’s member unions demanded he resign last Friday, expressing that they had “lost their confidence”. The unions, which included the ACT and Southern NSW, Queensland, West Australia, Northern Territory, South Australia and Tasmanian rugby unions, cited a “lack of trust or faith in his leadership, or the direction in which he is taking rugby in Australia”.

Rugby Australia confirmed Daniel Herbert as the new chairman on Sunday, describing his experience as “ideally suited to leading the development of the game from the grassroots to the elite level, across women’s and men’s Rugby”.

“It has never been more important for the Rugby Australia board, working with Member Unions, to come together and execute the reform we absolutely need for an aligned high-performance system and to deliver on the commitments we have made, including to invest in Community and Women’s Rugby,” read a statement shared to the Rugby Australia website.

The Australian has also reported that Wallabies sponsor Cadbury are also concerned by the recent events.

Both the Cadbury and Harvey Norman sponsorships were secured by McLennan during his remit.


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