Australian rugby boss Hamish McLennan has departed his role in the same outspoken style that marked his ill-fated reign over the game across the Tasman.

After six state unions called for his resignation, his fate was ultimately decided by the Rugby Australia board, after a series of crisis meetings over the weekend.

McLennan, 57, has been replaced by former Wallabies international Daniel Herbert, who will work with former teammate, now RA chief executive Phil Waugh to arrest a slide that culminated in Australia's first-ever poolplay exit from the Rugby World Cup in France last month.

The successful businessman was offered a seat on the board, but declined, heaping his critics with scorn as he left.

"Best of luck everyone," he told The Australian. "What a shame.

"The grubby smear campaign won this battle and the big winner is the NRL."

McLennan's running battle with rugby league counterpart Peter V'landys saw him actively lobby for the recruitment of 13-a-side stars across to his coade, namely Sydney Roosters youngster Joseph Suaalii, whose rugby contract may now be at risk.

"I'm really proud of staving off bankruptcy, doing the Ares loan, striking a broadcast deal, getting Cadbury and Harvey Norman and paying the Wallaroos for the first time and getting Joseph Suaalii," he said. "That young man will fill stadiums.

"Also the Rugby World Cups in '27 and '29 will be transformative.

"It's all good and nobody died."

Queensland rugby boss Brett Clark described McLennan's leadership as "arrogant".

"We do not believe Mr McLennan has been acting in the best interests of our game," said the unions, who represented every Australian state and territory, except New South Wales and Victoria.

"We no longer have any trust or faith in his leadership, or the direction in which he is taking rugby in Australia."

His attitude was certainly felt on this side of the Tasman, as the relationship between the two rugby allies plummeted to an alt-time low and McLennan threatened to withdraw his teams from Super Rugby.

One of the underlying issues in Australia rugby has long been the insistence on having five franchises, despite spreading the limited talent too thin and reducing their competitiveness. No Aussie team has made a Super Rugby final since 2014, when New South Wales won.

"All bets are off from '24 onwards with New Zealand," threatened McLennan. 

Stuff described him as "charming, erudite and interesting, but there is clearly a huge drive to win that means some people get run over along the way.

"For a NZ Rugby that is starting to find its feet, but has had a rocky year or two, he's an adversary they could do without."

Earlier this year, McLennan oversaw Kiwi Dave Rennie's axing from the Wallabies head coach role, installing Eddie Jones in a move that proved ultimately disastrous and probably the final straw in his own fate.

"It is a major coup for Australian rugby to have the best coach in the world return home to coach the iconic Wallabies and to oversee the Wallaroos programme," he said at the time.

Jones stepped down from his five-year contract last month, leaving Rugby Australia searching for a successor.

2023-11-19T22:23:27Z dg43tfdfdgfd