New Rugby Australia Chair Daniel Herbert has called for unity after his sudden appointment, looking to empower the game heading into the future.
Herbert was appointed in place of Hamish McLennan late Sunday after the departed Chair was called to resign by six member unions on Friday amid a lack of 'trust or faith in his leadership'
After a series of meetings across the weekend, the former Wallaby was put forward by the rest of the board as a candidate, with all but McLennan voting for Herbert to take over.
McLennan proceeded to step down from the board, with Herbert and the directors believing it was the right time to enact change.
"We deliberated that over the whole weekend," Herbert said on the process. "A lot of admiration and respect for Hamish and what he’s done stepping into this seat when probably not many people would have done it.
"He led us through COVID and has been fundamental about the changes required and that’s not going to change with me and the directors, we are steadfast on that. We feel that moving forward the game requires everyone to unite.
"We felt that would only be achieved with a change of chair...We were always due to sit down and consider the chair role and this is brought forward. In terms of the straw that broke the camel's back, it was an inflection point that we needed to determine over the next period of time what are the most critical things that we think are on our plate right now and unity was something that we all agreed and that that would be best achieved by change."
Speaking to reporters for close to 30 minutes, Herbert was a calm presence after a tumultuous 2023 that has seen a change in CEO, the Wallabies' worst World Cup performance and both national 15-a-side teams needing a new coach.
Confirming the appointment of a new Director of High Performance is at the top of the list, with Herbert stressing the importance of solidifying the system before looking at a replacement for the coaches.
"I've been trying to get the message across that changing a coach doesn't fix what's going on right now," he said.
"I know it makes people feel better we've got a certain coach in place for a period of time, but eventually the scoreboard comes into play and that's when you get found out.
"We can't take a short-term focus and we have to put the foundations in place and that starts with a good high-performance director that can come in and then run the process to find the coach, and make sure that we find the right fit for our playing group and the right person who can address some of the some of the team's shortcomings of late.
"The next couple of months are important for putting the foundations in. We keep looking for a sugar hit, it's just not coming. So we need to put the foundations in, we need to get the right people in and then we need to get the unity."
Centralisation remains at the forefront of this vision according to Herbert, focused around the high-performance aspect of the game.
"I know that different people have a different view of what it looks like – but everyone acknowledges that we have to align, we have to integrate, we have to unite," he added.
"So everyone is agreeing that that has to happen, some people might have a slightly different view of that, but we can only do that when we all get in a room, because I remember when I worked in rugby that this has been put on the table. This has been put on the table a few times and, at the time, various people and various member unions had appetite and others didn’t.
"I think now we’ve got enough history to see that it does work. Now it doesn’t have to be a cut-and-paste of anyone else’s, it can be our own version. But the principles are the same, we actually have to work in an integrated system, we can’t work in competition with each other, which is how rugby has been run, or how professional rugby has been run. So if we can integrate, then we give ourselves a chance."