Former chief operating officer Rob Clarke has been appointed Rugby Australia interim CEO following Raelene Castle’s resignation last month.
A former CEO of the Rebels and Brumbies, Clarke served as COO under Bill Pulver and Gary Flowers before stepping away from rugby administration in 2017, and has stepped in to fill Castle’s void on a short-term basis, although he will not put his name forward to take the role permanently after his interim term.
“I was sounded out by the chairman [Paul McLean] on my interest and availability to lead the organisation in a short-term capacity and I have accepted the role on that basis,” said Clarke.
“From my perspective, the opportunity and the timing were right, especially while things are on hold with some of my other pursuits during this current pandemic.
“I have worked with Paul McLean and other directors previously at Rugby Australia, as well as a number of the senior management staff and will be able to commence the role immediately and hit the ground running, which is what is needed at this time.
“The game is facing some unprecedented challenges and like all rugby supporters and people working within the game, I want to see Australian rugby get through this and emerge on the other side with greater certainty and a positive outlook.
“That is a challenge that I am very willing to take on and that’s what the focus will be over the next few months while the Board conducts its search for a permanent CEO. I will not be entering the process for the permanent role.”
Clarke’s appointment comes on the back of yet another number of tumultuous days at Rugby Australia, following the resignation of the man touted as McLean’s successor as chairman, Peter Wiggs. Wiggs had been pushing for current Australian Olympic Committee CEO and personal friend Matt Carroll to be immediately appointed as Rugby AU boss, only for the board to block the proposed move and insist on a proper process to appoint Castle’s replacement.
While no exact timeframe has been placed on his tenure, McLean said he believes Clarke is the right person to help rugby emerge from the current coronavirus crisis in good health.
“Rob is an extremely capable and experienced leader who has vast experience in rugby and his immediate availability has enabled us to secure his expertise for an interim period while we conduct a comprehensive search for the next CEO,” McLean said.
“Rob’s primary role will be to lead the management team and to implement the Board’s restructure plans while our work continues to get rugby back on the field at both the community and professional levels.”