- Defiant comment to reporters has raised eyebrows
- Hamish McLennan also said he won’t quit as RA chairman
- Wallabies didn’t progress to World Cup quarter-finals
- Coach Eddie Jones then quit 10 months into a five-year deal
Embattled Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan has made the staggering claim the sport is in a better place now than it was three years ago following his appointment.
It follows the recent resignation of Eddie Jones as Wallabies coach, just 10 months into a five-year deal.
Australia endured a nightmare World Cup in France, failing to progress beyond the group stage for the first time.
But McLennan, who radio tsar Alan Jones believes has to follow Jones out the door, is adamant rugby in Australia is on the rise ahead of the British and Lions tour in 2025 followed by the World Cup on local shores come 2027.
‘I think we’re better than we were three years ago, even though the World Cup performance was terrible,’ he told reporters in Sydney after flying in from Paris.
Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan has made the staggering claim the sport is in a better place now than it was three years ago following his appointment
His statement follows the recent resignation of Eddie Jones (pictured) as Wallabies coach, just 10 months into a five-year deal
‘We inherited a bit of a burning mess. ‘I think there’s a lot of interest in rugby; we’ll get through this.
‘It’s interesting, everyone’s talking about rugby. A lot of the sceptics say the codes dead, it’s not.’
McLennan also believes Jones was the perfect man for the job after he replaced Dave Rennie in January.
‘Whether Eddie was the right call or not, I think that’s that’s almost irrelevant now because the system’s broken, and we need to fix it,’ he said.
‘Looking forward, I can tell you, there’s no shortage of high-quality coaches that want to come and coach the Wallabies.’
When quizzed on whether former Wallabies assistant coach Dan McKellar was the frontrunner to replace Jones, McLennan remained coy.
‘I don’t think you can put your bets on anyone at the moment,’ he said.
‘There’ll be some overseas coaches, there’ll be local ones and there will be ones that have been part of the system. We’ve got a completely open mind.’
Former Wallabies coach Alan Jones has hit Rugby Australia with withering criticisms – and McLennan was firmly in his sights
He also declared he has no intention to walk away as RA’s chairman, stating he ‘loves the sport’ and is ‘not a quitter.’
‘Well, I think if you look at what I’ve done, I’ve come in, we secured credit when we have no money in the bank, we secured the World Cups in 2027 and 2029 [women’s] when we had no money in the bank, we paid the women, the Wallaroos, for the first time ever,’ he said.
‘I think I’ve got an intimate knowledge of all that needs to be done.
‘So our performance at the World Cup was a setback….but the truth of the matter is, we’ve got a board and a management team that know what needs to be done.’
McLennan then outlined a message for fed up Wallabies fans: be patient.
‘All I’d say to the rugby public is that you’ve got to continue to make decisions and not all of them work out,’ he said.
‘If this was a business, you would find that you don’t get a 100-per-cent success rate and I stand by the calls.’