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Rugby must refresh or be swamped by rivals: McGrath

Date

Jon Tuxworth

Outgoing ARU president Peter McGrath.

Outgoing ARU president Peter McGrath. Photo: Lyn Mill

Outgoing Australian Rugby Union chairman Peter McGrath believes the game must adopt an independent governance structure, or hand a significant advantage to its rival football codes.

The AFL and most recently the NRL have all adopted streamlined corporate structures and McGrath, who stepped down from his post after five years on Friday, declared the ARU should follow suit.

The ARU announced last week that board member General Peter Cosgrove and former federal sports minister Mark Arbib would conduct a review into the game's governance.

''My preference would be for an NRL/AFL-type structure that's efficient and modern,'' Canberra resident McGrath said.

''There's a lot of duplication in rugby because of the federated structure, and when resources are so critical you wonder if that's the best use of our resources.''

Under the current system New South Wales and Queensland appoint two board members each, with the remaining states boasting a single representative.

''That doesn't always ensure you get the best directors to come through,'' McGrath said.

''That's not to say the ones we've had during my term have been in any way substandard.

''It's been an excellent board, but it's not what I'd call a modern structure.''

McGrath, who was part of the Canberra Raiders' inaugural NSWRL team in 1982, feels the time was right for him to step down and will be replaced by former Wallaby Michael Hawker.

ARU boss John O'Neill's contract expires at the end of next year, and McGrath wanted to give Hawker a chance to start afresh with O'Neill's successor.

He rated the introduction of Super Rugby's conference structure, the inclusion of Argentina into an expanded international competition and the Wallabies jumping three places to number two in the world as some of the highlights of his tenure as chairman.

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