Speculation grows on rugby’s new boss
Rugby Australia is likely to be turned on its head as news circulated late Monday night that Peter Wiggs was about to replace Paul McLean as chairman and Matt Carroll may be approached as the new chief executive officer, to replace Raelene Castle.
The RA board meeting broke up without a decision being taken, with McLean confirming to a RA spokesperson that he would remain as interim chairman. But that is not to suggest that the initial rumours were incorrect, merely that the RA board baulked at making the changes at this time. It is understood that one of the directors advised the board that it would look foolish if it had carried out the plan.
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There also was a report that the two-times CEO of the Australian Rugby Union John O'Neill was set to return to the board as a replacement for McLean but O'Neill denied that to News Corp.
"I am not a candidate for any position," O'Neill said. "I was asked last year whether I would ever return to the RA board and I made my conditions quite clear. I'm not getting dragged into the politics of Australian rugby. I'm a good friend of Paul McLean and he is doing the right thing preparing for changes as the interim chairman."
It is believed that McLean telephoned O'Neill for advice and guidance over the weekend before deciding to act.
He indicated when he took over the reins as interim chairman that he would last no longer than July 31 but in recent weeks he has indicated that he would move on earlier if he could make suitable arrangements for a successor.
Wiggs has long been telegraphed as the man to replace McLean as chairman. The chairman of the Supercars, he was brought in as a RA director at the annual general meeting at the end of March and immediately was put to good use as RA was left reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.
So assiduously did he work that it was even suggested that he might get involved in the daily business of running the organisation as Castle's replacement but clearly his talents lie in other areas and the belief in RA is that he might be the man to seal the broadcast deal - possibly with Fox - after Castle was forced to break off negotiations with potential broadcasters because of the pandemic.
Wiggs has longstanding connections with the Mosman rugby club and is understood to be a long-time friend of Phil Kearns, the former Australian hooker and one of 10 Wallabies captains who recently signed the letter protesting the state of Australian rugby.
The RA board met on Monday night and indications are that one of the most momentous night unfolded as the long-promised clean-out finally took place.
Carroll is CEO of the Australian Olympic Committee but is familiar with the workings of what was previously the Australian Rugby Union. He was O'Neill's right-hand man during his two terms as ARU and would certainly have the clout to sort out the organisation in time for the 2027 Rugby World Cup. Australia, to date, is the only bidder for that tournament but before RA returns to anything resembling normality - the British and Irish Lions also tour in 2025, also boosting the cash flow - it will have to go through a period of grief as the headquarters staff of 148 is slashed.
Originally published as Speculation grows on rugby's new boss