Former Wallabies greats demand leadership change in RA

The letter, signed by the likes of Nick Farr-Jones, George Gregan and Michael Lynagh, alleges mismanagement at RA which is struggling to keep rugby afloat during the global sporting shutdown.

Australia's prop Scott Sio carries the ball during the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between Australia and Fiji at the Sapporo Dome in Sapporo on 21 September 2019. Picture: AFP

SYDNEY - Eleven former Wallabies captains have signed a letter demanding a leadership change at the Rugby Australia (RA) which is grappling with a major financial crisis compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter, signed by the likes of Nick Farr-Jones, George Gregan and Michael Lynagh, alleges mismanagement at RA which is struggling to keep rugby afloat during the global sporting shutdown.

“In recent times, the Australian game has lost its way,” the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper quoted from the letter.

“It is a defeat inflicted not by COVID-19, or an on-field foe, but rather by poor administration and leadership over a number of years.”

“...we ask the current administration to heed our call and stand aside to allow the game to be transformed so we emerge from this pandemic with a renewed sense of unity and purpose,” the letter added.

RA and the players’ union announced on Monday a 60% average pay cut for the country’s 192 professionals up to the end of September.

Local media speculated earlier this month that RA chief executive Raelene Castle could be sacked following the crisis.

RA chairman Paul McLean confirmed receiving the letter on Tuesday and offered to meet the former skippers.

“These are respected former Wallabies captains and the Board would value their input as we work through the challenges that Rugby has faced over the last few years and that have been amplified by the coronavirus pandemic,” McLean said in a statement.

“The Board is also prepared to work with the group to provide them access to the information requested in the letter.

“The Board had commenced the process of establishing a review group... The Board would welcome the input of the signatories of the letter into the review process.”