Cameron Clyne is to stand down as Rugby Australia chairman, conceding the negativity surrounding him and his role was hampering the sport’s progress.
Clyne announced on Monday he won’t stand for re-election at the completion of his term in March 2020, ending a difficult four-years at the helm in which Australia’s status as a rugby power had waned.
While he believed he had achieved much for RA, Clyne admitted the “painful” decision to remove the Western Force from Super Rugby and the modest results from the Wallabies had blighted his tenure.
RA management has also been forced to wrestle with the fallout of Israel Folau’s controversial social media posts and star player’s subsequent legal action taken against his former employer.
Clyne’s name hit the news for the wrong reasons in the wake of the Wallabies’ quarter-final exit from the Rugby World Cup last month, when departing coach Michael Cheika revealed he had “no relationship” with the chairman, nor with chief executive Raelene Castle.
Clyne said in a statement he would best serve the sport by standing down.
“Unfortunately, recently, much of the focus of the media has been directed at myself, which has overshadowed a lot of great work that has been done and continues to be done at the community level through to the national level by our volunteers, administrators, players, coaches, and match officials across the country,” he said.
“It is hoped that with my resignation, the attention can return to where it rightfully should be, which is on the field and that this positive work will be highlighted.”
Clyne said the growth in women’s rugby female players and sevens was a positive during his tenure, boosted by the women’s sevens gold medal at the Rio Olympics.
He would remain committed over the next four months to overseeing the delivery of a new broadcast deal, the conclusion of Folau’s legal action and the appointment of a new Wallabies coach.
He hoped there would be a smooth transition to a new chairman the next AGM in March.
Former banker Clyne said he would walk away content with the effort he had poured into the role.
“Notwithstanding the very painful decision to remove the Western Force from the Super Rugby competition and the mixed results of the Wallabies in recent years, there have been a number of achievements and positive advancements right across the game over the past four years,” he said.