My replacements for the ARU top jobs
ARU chief executive John O'Neill (right) speaks with Wallabies coach Robbie Deans following a press conference at the team hotel (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
The ARU doesn’t need an international head-hunt to replace the retiring John O’Neill as CEO, he’s already there under their noses – the chairman.
Michael Hawker AM.
To be fair, I haven’t bounced the idea off Hawker, or anyone else for that matter. But he ticks all the boxes, and has more in store.
As a Wallaby, Hawker played 25 Tests, 18 of them outside the greatest number 10 I’ve seen anywhere in the world over nearly 50 years covering rugby – the mercurial Mark Ella.
He was the most intuitive, instinctive, and innovative fly-half, with the uncanny ability to slip through holes in the opposition defence that seemed like Fort Knox.
In his 25 Tests, Ella never had an inside centre like Hawker, the ideal mid-field general who capitalised on the Ella magic with his superb support of straight hard running.
Hawker’s outside centres had a picnic – Andrew Slack in 11 Tests, Gary Ella in four, and Michael O’Connor in three.
A born leader on the field, and a business leader after his rugby retirement.
It would take this entire column to do justice to his achievements, so I’ll just stick to banking and insurance:
- Executive director of Citibank International in Europe.
- Deputy managing director of Citibank Limited in Australia.
- CEO of Insurance Australia Group Ltd.
- Group executive of business, consumer banking at Westpac.
There are many other directorships in other fields, including those bolstering the community.
Hawker ticks all the boxes alright.
That being the case, who is best suited to be ARU chairman?
As president of the Queensland Rugby Union since 2009, he has turned the Reds from a basket-case into a formidable Super side. It was his vision to lure coach Ewen McKenzie away from an ungrateful NSW and, between the two of them, they have succeeded in a spectacular way in a short time.
McCall is a no-nonsense administrator, who earned the nickname of ‘Slaughter’ as a 40-cap Wallaby lock.
And it will need no-nonsense if the broom is to sweep through the out-dated ARU system.
The 14 state delegates for starters, where NSW has five votes, Queensland three, with one vote apiece for the ACT, Northern Territory, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, and Victoria.
The one-voters would bring to the ARU table the equivalent of covering the head of a match – collectively.
Rugby needs an Australian Rugby Commission of six and I’m suggesting John Eales, Andrew Slack, and Michael Lynagh from Queensland with Nick Farr-Jones, Simon Poidevin, and Matt Burke from NSW – the first five all Wallaby captains, Burke one of the finest footballers-cum-goal kickers over the last 50 years.
The rugby nous among the half-dozen is immense, their vision as Wallabies just as vital to move the code forward.
The six would individually head up the six areas of Australian rugby that requires urgent attention – player management and policing of the Wallabies and the five Super sides, club rugby especially, schoolboys, sponsorships, and the media.
They wouldn’t be hands-on every day but would supervise department heads who would all have secretaries and well-chosen staff.
But nothing like it is today.
When I was publishing the weekly Rugby News out of Rugby House in the old Crane Place in the late 80s and early 90s, there were nine employees running the ARU, NSW, and Sydney.
Today there are in the vicinity of 150 doing the same jobs. Admittedly there’s a lot more rugby since professionalism, but not to that administrative extent.
For the record, Michael Hawker was 53 three days ago, Rod McCall is 49, both have the energy, drive, and vision necessary to make the ARU a formidable governing body.
Those are thoughts for today Roarers, which require some fine tuning – but the personnel are undeniable.
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