RUPA reveal Raj as new CEO

by Sam Phillips

The Rugby Union Players' Association have announced experienced lawyer Prataal Raj as their new CEO.

Raj, a corporate lawyer who has stints with the International Cricket Council and Australian Grand Prix Corporation on his CV, will replace Ross Xenos.

Xenos joined the Rebels in a commercial role in June.

"A unanimous decision was reached by the selection committee, which consisted of RUPA Board Members Sally Fielke and Dean Mumm, RUPA President Damien Fitzpatrick, and myself," RUPA chairman Bruce Hodgkinson SC said.

"Prataal’s unique skill set and experience made him an ideal appointment to the role of CEO and provides a strong foundation upon which to continue RUPA’s representation of, and advocacy on behalf of, the RUPA membership.

"Prataal’s major international sports administration experience also allows RUPA to enhance its contribution to the strategic direction of rugby in Australia.Ross Xenos has joined the Rebels. Photo: Getty Images"On behalf of the board, we are tremendously excited to work with Prataal in ensuring RUPA continues to deliver on its core purposes of protecting the standards of professional players, promoting the interests of the players and the game, and preparing players for their lives beyond rugby."

Raj's first job as RUPA CEO will arguably be the most important of his entire tenure, however long that may be.

He will be leading the players' arm into SANZAAR broadcast negotiations for season 2020 and beyond.

Australia's professional players currently receive 29 percent of the revenue generated by the game and Raj will undoubtedly press for an increase in that percentage share moving forward.

"I’m delighted to have been offered this role and look forward to working with the players to ensure their interests are staunchly represented," Raj said.

"I’ve been a strong supporter of rugby my entire life and am excited about the opportunity to contribute to the strategic direction of the game. RUPA has built its’ reputation as a responsible and respected stakeholder in the game and I look forward to building upon this and working closely with Rugby Australia, state unions, RUPA’s existing commercial partners and government to further and strengthen the interests of players.

"I’m also excited to continue driving the evolution of RUPA’s Player Development Program for both male and female Rrgby players, and I believe the game’s ongoing investment in its players is paramount.

"This investment, and rugby’s inclusivity, are areas the game prides itself on, and I’m looking forward to ensuring our members are supported off-field and that we continue to reinforce and enhance the link between wellbeing and high performance, and to follow through on RUPA’s mantra of helping our players become better people, better players, and live better lives.”

Raj is understood to have beaten highly regarded Classic Wallaby Justin Harrison to the job.

Harrison currently works in foreign exchange in France and has been working closely with the Classic Wallabies in recent years.

While he may have missed out on this job his business nous could still be mighty useful back on Australian shores.