Ex-Wallaby Herbert elected new chairman of embattled Rugby Australia

rugby19 November 2023 20:34| © AFP
article image
Daniel Herbert © Gallo Images

Former Wallabies star Daniel Herbert has been elected the new chairman of Rugby Australia after his predecessor was ousted in the wake of Eddie Jones' failed tenure as head coach.

Herbert, a World Cup winner in 1999, took over as chair of the governing body following an emergency board meeting late on Sunday.

His predecessor, Hamish McLennan, resigned after six of the eight state unions said they had lost trust in his leadership. McLennan had been a key driver in the January decision to put Jones in charge of the Wallabies.

Once a powerhouse of international rugby, two-time World Cup winners Australia are in the doldrums after Jones announced his resignation in October, 10 months into a five-year contract.

Under his stewardship, the Wallabies won just two of nine tests this year and failed to reach the quarterfinals of the World Cup for the first time.

In a statement, Herbert said Rugby Australia must work with the state unions to usher in reforms needed to create a more centralised structure for their top players following a dismal year.

"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," added Herbert, who played 67 tests for the Wallabies.

Australia will host the British and Irish Lions tour in 2025, and the next men's World Cup in 2027.

"The reform we progress now will underpin the competitiveness of our national teams, as well as building deeper engagement with the rugby community and fans everywhere," Herbert added.

The 49-year-old was part of the Wallabies side which won the 1999 World Cup.

He held roles with the Queensland Rugby Union after his playing career before joining the Rugby Australia board in 2020.

Ex-Australia captain Andrew Slack is leading an external review into the Wallabies' poor recent performances and early World Cup exit.

Rugby Australia is also looking for a new Wallabies head coach to replace Jones with Dan McKellar, currently in charge of English side Leicester, and former Wallabies fly-half Stephen Larkham touted as frontrunners.