Thursday, December 08, 2005
Reds revolt topples ARU chairman
By Roy Masters Friday, December 9, 2005
A QUEENSLAND-LED coup unseated ARU chairman Dilip Kumar yesterday after criticism of him following the recent IRB meeting that awarded the 2011 Rugby World Cup to New Zealand.
Kumar supported Japan's bid to host the tournament but the Kiwis believed he had promised it to them in the eventual 12-9 ballot. Their wrath is such that the ARU feared New Zealand would not back Australia's push for a fifth team when the Super 14 competition next expands.
Australia wants a fifth Super 14 franchise in Melbourne to provide a nationwide spread of the code. But any Australian expansion would be conditional on the support of New Zealand, which, along with South Africa and Australia, comprises the competition's governing body, SANZAR.
Kumar was also the target of criticism following last week's dismissal of Wallabies coach Eddie Jones, with claims he had leaked information. As a NSW representative on the ARU board and a former chairman of the NSWRU, Kumar's decision to quit as chairman may dent Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie's ambitions of taking over from Jones.
"There was unwarranted personal criticism of Dilip when the ARU board chose to support Japan's bid for the Rugby World Cup 2011," ARU president Paul McLean said in a statement. "The ARU board remains committed to its decision to support Japan's bid."
With the ARU to take over the secretariat of SANZAR next year, Kumar had decided to quit his role as chairman to try to ensure a smooth transition, the ARU said.
Kumar said his decision was in the best interests of Australian rugby but declined to comment further. When yesterday's meeting began at 1pm, Queensland's three delegates - Ben Kehoe, David Usasz, Robin Thompson - planned to move against Kumar and had the support of the ACT's Peter McGrath.
However, this counted for only four votes on the nine-man board and the rebels were intent on wooing chief executive Gary Flowers or Travis Hall, the players' association representative, or even convincing one of Kumar's two NSW colleagues - Mike Brown and Ron Graham - to desert his chairman.
As the bitter meeting progressed, Flowers made it clear he did not want to politicise the process and left the room, concerned he would be caught in the crossfire. He, along with Kumar, left and rejoined the meeting at intervals.
Eventually, the board made it clear Kumar's position was untenable and he stood down at 5pm before a vote was necessary. He will remain a member of the board but is expected to retire early next year.
Publicity over Jones's role after Australia lost eight of their past nine Tests created friction between Kumar and Flowers, who is now seen as secure in his position. Flowers took it upon himself to sack Jones before Kumar could come over the top and emerge as the ARU strong man.
However, influential figures in the corporate and marketing world are looking to attract former chief executive John O'Neill back to the code. Kumar and former ARU chairman Bob Tuckey were the two officials responsible for O'Neill's departure by mutual consent following the successful staging of the 2003 Rugby World Cup by Australia.
O'Neill is still bitter both had told him he did not have the support of the board, yet he subsequently discovered the matter had not gone to the directors. It is understood O'Neill could be wooed back only if he was offered an executive chairman's role of the type his close friend John Coates enjoys as AOC president.
O'Neill, now the chief executive of Football Federation Australia, oversaw the Socceroos' recent qualification for next year's World Cup in Germany.
He receives a $1 million salary, enjoys the support of billionaire businessman Frank Lowy, travels extensively and is now a player in the world game. Currently in Germany for the World Cup draw, it would take a huge incentive for him to return to rugby. While the present members of the board were not responsible for his departure, O'Neill would seek a position in which he was not required to report to a table of directors.
Kumar's critics claim he has spent two years on the IRB board and is yet to make a contribution. All three bidding cities for the 2011 World Cup believed they had his vote. One opponent likened him to a good sheep dog, saying: "He works wide and he works quietly."
However, he invoked the rage of sheep-loving New Zealanders by backing Japan, believing it to be in the code's interests. Awarding Japan the tournament would have been a move away from the code's Anglo-Celtic power base and pleased the IOC, which is yet to invite rugby to the Olympics. The 2011 vote was closer than assumed and it angered the Kiwis, who believed they deserved the tournament after being dumped by Australia for 2003. Ireland had promised to support South Africa but the night before the vote South African officials found IRB chairman Syd Millar, a former Irish and British Lions prop, with his arm around All Blacks legend Colin Meads, sharing a pint.
Had Ireland's votes gone to South Africa, they would have moved into the second round ahead of New Zealand. In rugby politics, vengeance is more lethal than the bottom of a ruck.
A new ARU chairman will be elected today.
"The 2011 vote was closer than assumed and it angered the Kiwis, who believed they deserved the tournament after being dumped by Australia for 2003. Ireland had promised to support South Africa but the night before the vote South African officials found IRB chairman Syd Millar, a former Irish and British Lions prop, with his arm around All Blacks legend Colin Meads, sharing a pint."
And i see slider is also there. Bloody traitor...
By the way, what are you doing on that site Ig?
There are some guys who hold grudges for a very long time.
I kind of feel that BvR & Prinsloo are a bit lightweight to be dealing with some of these okes.
Also, let's face it, we haven't done ourselves many favours over the years. People think we're basket cases at the best of times.
Wonder if Derek Bevan still has it...
I remember that Francois and Kerry were in bed together on this and there was a lot of toing and foing in SA about whether we'd go Packer or Murdoch
Rasp that one deserves a slap on the wrist!
Well then I can actually go with StP's theory that we should stay in it and look after No. 1 only. Stuff them. The more they hate us the more we'll know we're doing stuff right, the way it was in the 50's annd 60's
Only thing is that it's not often you even hear that there is an Assie Rugby Board.
England have this perpetual battle between Club & Country.
Privately owned clubs who are seeking profit as opposed to a national union that needs to address the bigger and wider issues.
Anyone knows more about this quote from the article? Were they out to KILL rugby?
"Hobbs, the man who stopped Pienaar and Packer in their dastardly bid to kill rugby. Hobbs, the man who gave up 3 MONTHS of his life and lost his job to SAVE RUGBY and SAVE the IRB!"