HT&E’s Hamish McLennan joins Rugby Australia board as chairman

Here, There & Everywhere and REA Group chairman Hamish McLennan has added Rugby Australia to the long list of companies whose boards he sits on. The sporting organisation today announced he has been appointed director and chairman-elect.

McLennan’s appointment comes at a critical time for the business as it struggles through leadership changes and prepares to return to the negotiating table for its broadcast rights.

Hamish McLennan has joined the board of Rugby Australia

McLennan has been chairman of HT&E, the parent company of radio business Australian Radio Network (ARN), since 2018 and is deputy chairman of Magellan Financial Group, a globally focused equity fund with approximately $100bn of investments under management.

He is also a former CEO of Ten and former executive vice president in the office of the chairman at News Corp, a role which saw him work closely with Rupert Murdoch. Rugby Australia’s most recent broadcast agreement was with Ten and News Corp’s Foxtel.

McLennan was the boss of Ten during the negotiation of the Big Bash League rights, which is largely considered one of the best sporting broadcast agreements in the country. The BBL has since moved to Seven.

Rugby Australia chairman, Paul McLean said the appointment of McLennan is a critical factor in the transition to new stable leadership for Rugby Australia and the game.

“Hamish’s appointment marks a new era as we reset Rugby Australia and our game with a focus on the future,” McLean said.

“He brings exceptional commercial skills and experience in leading some of the largest and most successful businesses in the country.

“Hamish is also a lifelong rugby man and is passionate about uniting the game and bringing all of its diverse and enthusiastic stakeholders together to drive the game forward.

McLean said McLennan’s appointment comes at a crucial time with the challenges presented by COVID-19.

“His immediate focus with the Board is on ensuring the game navigates the next few months while reshaping the Rugby economy for a sustainable future to ensure the game remains healthy and strong at the community level,” McLean said.

McLennan said he will be working with the board and all stakeholders to create positive change in the game.

“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,” 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.”

Rugby was in the process of holding a bidding war for its rights before the COVID-19 pandemic struck and it was forced to pause its plans. The sporting body then lost CEO Raelene Castle, replaced by interim CEO Rob Clarke who has made it clear he will not stay in the role longer than six months.

Rugby Australia also currently holds an emergency loan from World Rugby, aimed at helping it survive the year during the pandemic.

McLennan takes the place of private equity specialist and Supercars chairman Peter Wiggs who was poised to take the spot on the board, but stood down after a failed attempt to install Australian Olympic Committee boss Matt Carroll as chief executive.

McLennan will also face a number of former Wallabies captains who have expressed concern with the way Rugby Australia is being managed. He has already given a vote of confidence for new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie who is currently stuck in Scotland and was one of Castle’s last appointments.


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