Rugby Union


ACT Brumbies make boardroom shake-up as Super Rugby club moves on from trouble

ACT Brumbies chairman Robert Kennedy hopes proposed constitutional changes will help the organisation find stability, declaring "we are serious" about improving the club's off-field position.

Brumbies stakeholders will vote on another back-room shake-up in October as the Super Rugby club overhauls its boardroom operations after one of the most turbulent years in its history.

Kennedy is keen to see through the changes to set up the Brumbies' long-term future after a year of upheaval, culminating in chief executive Michael Jones agreeing to a payout after an ugly legal battle.

The Brumbies appointed two new board members on Thursday – Michelle Melbourne and Christopher Doogan – as part of a director revamp which is guided by a professional skills matrix.

The Brumbies engaged the help of the Australian Sports Commission to change its board selection processes and draft changes to the constitution.


The changes include: axing the Brumbies chief executive's position as a board member, changing the maximum term of directors to six years and simplifying the voting process.

The changes have to be approved by the Canberra clubs, who hold the balance of power in the boardroom with 14 of 23 votes.

They will retain their voting power in the new structure but the revamp will change the way the board is elected.

Kennedy's position is one of two up for review at the annual general meeting in December. He was in charge as the Brumbies battled through a drawn-out legal process with Jones.

"We want all of our stakeholders and supporters to know that we are serious about improving things off the field," Kennedy said.

"[The changes] are things that our funding bodies are looking forward to, to show that we are appropriately run. We've been very serious about adopting the best practise governance principles.

"The changes would lead to a higher calibre board which would then lead to a better performance of the organisation.

"The need for these changes has never been more evident than with some of the off-field issues of the Brumbies in recent years. The strong support shown by the rugby community is a sign that these times are behind us."

The Brumbies made the finals for a fourth consecutive year this season, but they were plagued by off-field distractions.

Jones was initially stood down in March before being reinstated when he launched legal action in the ACT Supreme Court.

He agreed to a payout in May and then settled a legal dispute with the University of Canberra and others on Friday night last week.

The tension between the Brumbies and stakeholders stemmed from a KPMG report, which remains suppressed by order of the ACT Supreme Court, into transactions at the club between 2009 and 2013.

But it is hoped the boardroom changes will draw a line under a rough period and help the club move forward as it prepares to report another financial loss at the end of the year.

It is understood the decision to axe the chief executive's position on the board was not triggered by the drama this year which led to a divide between the board and Jones.

Jones had been trying to implement board changes to appoint more professional directors instead of the current system, which is made up of a wide range of appointments.

Stakeholders have been given a draft of constitutional changes that will be voted on in the coming weeks which will change the set-up and the Brumbies' board operations.

The Brumbies board is also still searching for a permanent successor to Jones, with applications being reviewed and interviews to start in October.

Intelledox Software co-founder Melbourne and Doogan, the first High Court registrar, have been appointed via an independent nominations committee.

Melbourne has more than 25 years of international business experience as well as previously being recognised as the ACT government's business woman of the year.

Doogan offers business and legal experience and is a trained mediator from Harvard Law School.

"I'm absolutely committed to seeing these changes through, I believe these will put the Brumbies in a better position long term," Kennedy said.