Rugby Australia (RA) has appointed Rob Clarke as its interim chief executive, as it continues to search for a full-time replacement for Raelene Castle.
- Rob Clarke will only serve in the role of CEO on a short-term basis
- Clarke has previously worked with Rugby Australia, as well as with the Brumbies and Rebels
- His appointment came on the same day as the resignation of Peter Wiggs as a Rugby Australia director
Clarke, an experienced rugby union administrator, will step into the role on a short-term basis following Castle’s resignation last month after serving less than three years as chief executive.
The appointment of Clarke comes on the same day Peter Wiggs resigned from the RA board.
Wiggs was expected to become RA chairman and his decision to step away from the organisation came just over a month after his appointment as a director.
He reportedly met opposition to his proposal to appoint Australian Olympic Committee chief executive Matt Carroll as Castle’s full-time replacement.
Clarke has previously worked with RA as its chief operating officer during two stints, while he has also served as chief executive of the Brumbies and Melbourne Rebels.
He returns to RA at a time when it is enduring one of the most turbulent periods of its history during the coronavirus pandemic.
Clarke had been approached by RA’s interim chairman Paul McLean to take on the position, although he said he only agreed to do so in a “short-term capacity”.
“The game is facing some unprecedented challenges and like all rugby supporters and people working within the game, I want to see Australian rugby get through this and emerge on the other side with greater certainty and a positive outlook,” Clarke said in a statement.
“I will not be entering the process for the permanent role.”
RA was facing financial difficulty prior to the coronavirus outbreak, having announced in March it had posted a provisional $9.4 million operating deficit for 2019.
It forecast it could lose up to $120 million in revenue if the professional game did not resume this year, while it was forced to stand down 75 per cent of its staff.
RA is also attempting to renegotiate its broadcast deal.
“Rob’s primary role will be to lead the management team and to implement the board’s restructure plans while our work continues to get rugby back on the field at both the community and professional levels,” McLean said.
“Our absolute priority is to get the game back up and running across the country and supporting our community so that the game is in the best position to move forward from this current period of uncertainty in a position of good health.”
Earlier today, McLean released a statement saying he understood Wiggs’s reasons for resigning from the RA board.
He praised the Supercars chairman for the work he conducted during his brief time with RA, which he joined in March.
“He has undertaken some very important work and has made a valuable contribution to the organisation, in a very short time, and we are thankful for his contribution,” McLean said.