Hamish McLennan airs wild Rugby Australia conspiracy theory after axed chairman was given the boot following Wallabies’ year from hell

Hamish McLennan claims he is the victim of a power grab and believes his resignation as Rugby Australia chairman will only create further divisions in a code that is already badly broken.

McLennan launched a blistering attack on Queensland’s ‘two-faced’ powerbrokers after being given his marching orders on Sunday following a turbulent year for Australian rugby.

McLennan was ousted following an extraordinary late-night board meeting after six member unions including the Brumbies and Queensland Reds – who have yet to commit to RA’s centralization plan – demanded his resignation 48 hours earlier.

While he insisted he was not angry, McLennan said he was disappointed with the way he was fired and could not finish the job of fixing “a broken system.”

“I’m deeply disappointed,” McLennan said News Corp.

Hamish McLennan claims he was the victim of a coup by rugby power brokers

‘I understand that things happen in boards, but the double dealing and the two faces of what is happening is quite extraordinary.

“This is very much a Queensland takeover. Make no mistake about it.’

When McLennan was asked on 2GB radio on Monday whether his removal was due to a power grab by some states, he said: ‘In my opinion, yes.

‘They want to have more say. At the end of the day, this is all about money and control, so we’ll see how it plays out.

‘There has been a coordinated campaign to defame me a bit and that has been fed back through me and other board members. That’s a very cheap opportunity,” he said.

‘I mean, we won a World Cup (hosting rights) for the men and women in ’27 and ’29, we got broadcast deals, we got sponsors involved and if you just look at some of the support, we had from former Prime Minister John Howard, John Coates, major sponsors, Cadbury (boss) Darren O’Brien…

“There’s a lot of support, and Andrew Forrest and Nicola Forrest. They are not stupid people, they are very smart.

“They know it’s a journey and every business in life takes time to solve.”

McLennan was replaced as chairman by 1999 World Cup winner Wallaby Daniel Herbert and turned down an offer to stay on as director.

“If you want to change direction, go for it,” he said.

“I understand it was a bit of a divisive mood, which is quite interesting, so I think what has happened will actually create more division within rugby, not less when it comes to unity.

“They can’t rely on me to continue to help with broadcast deals and the Rugby World Cups in Australia and all the other commercial matters and still expect me to contribute in that regard.

McLennan was given the boot after overseeing a terrible year in charge of Rugby Australia

McLennan was given the boot after overseeing a terrible year in charge of Rugby Australia

Daniel Herbert has taken over, but McLennan says he was ousted by 'two-faced power brokers'

Daniel Herbert has taken over, but McLennan says he was ousted by ‘two-faced power brokers’

“What I would also say is that three of the super clubs that put all the money into the game, namely the (Western) Force, the (Melbourne) Rebels and the (NSW) Waratahs, were very happy that I stayed.”

However, Herbert later on Monday disputed McLennan’s claim of a split vote, saying the decision would have been unanimous had the ousted chairman not voted to stay on.

McLennan’s departure comes three weeks after Eddie Jones, who McLennan brought in as Wallabies coach in January, quit 10 months into his five-year contract and blamed the system for Australia’s diabolical 2023 World Cup campaign.

“The World Cup results were quite poor but we have to look at the underlying reasons and the fact is the system is broken and we need to fix it,” McLennan said.

“That’s what we tried to do. It is a long and difficult process, it is a federal model and you have to work very hard to actually get the affiliated unions to give up power and centralize it.

“And that was the core of the problem.”

McLennan insisted he was not bitter.

“Nobody died and it’s just a game,” he said.

“An important one that I love, but there’s a war going on in Ukraine. There is a war going on between Israel and Hamas and these are real issues that really matter.”

Herbert thanked McLennan for stepping into the hot seat during the pandemic, before launching a thinly veiled attack on his predecessor.

“I’m not necessarily going to talk about Hamish, but when you’re working on the other side you just want to make sure you’re not being dictated to,” Herbert said.

‘If you know football, you want to make sure people listen to you, because a lot of our good talent, and not just playing talent, is in our clubs.

“We believe that the game in the future requires everyone to unite. We thought that would only be possible with a seat change.’