Rugby Australia told to 'black ban' NRL stars as leaked letter is revealed

Rugby club presidents have taken aim at Rugby Australia's leadership and lack of vision for the future.

Rugby Australia's Hamish McLennan and Joseph Suaalii
Rugby Australia has been told to 'black ban' NRL stars. Image: Getty

The walls continue to move in on Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan. Following news six state unions had sent McLennan a written vote of no confidence demanding his resignation, it can be revealed a powerful lobby of club presidents have joined the pile on, penning a strong letter expressing their disenchantment with RA's leadership and lack of vision for the future.

The bosses of all 12 NSW Shute Shield clubs had their say on the state of the game in Australia following the Wallabies' disastrous World Cup campaign, putting forward a damning assessment. Fed up with being ignored despite a long history of developing players for Super Rugby and international duty, they let fly in a letter sent by the Sydney Rugby Union at the behest of the clubs.

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And top of the agenda is a call to "black ban" NRL players like Joseph Suaalii, Cameron Murray and Angus Crichton who opt to play league despite coming from union backgrounds. In a copy of the letter, obtained by Yahoo Sport Australia and addressed to McLennan and CEO Phil Waugh, the club presidents wrote: "The performance of the Wallabies is not an isolated challenge and has only further heightened the importance to reset and work together on a path forward".

"As the body representing the Shute Shield clubs, the source of a large proportion of our elite players, those clubs feel the need to be heard and to put their message and constructive ideas forward."

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The Shute Shield clubs are not looking for handouts, but they need a plan that allows the Shute Shield and rugby generally to thrive and compete with other codes. "This includes from the day a player takes up the game until the elite player pulls on a Wallaby jersey, and all steps along the way," the letter stated.

"A single example of where we struggle is between school and a Super Rugby contract.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JULY 22: Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii of Roosters after the round 21 NRL match between Gold Coast Titans and Sydney Roosters at Cbus Super Stadium on July 22, 2023 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)
Rugby Australia has been told to "black ban" players like Joseph Suaalii, Cameron Murray and Angus Crichton who opt to play league despite coming from union backgrounds. Image: Getty

"Whilst we understand and appreciate a new contracting model is being explored, we still see multi-million-dollar contracts thrown at a few of the talented players we lost to the game. We shouldn’t be focused on using limited resources trying to bring a few back and alienating the players in the current pathway who are striving to reach the pinnacle."

The presidents warn the very survival of the code rests on what RA does next. "Junior rugby in Australia is trying to do battle with Aussie Rules, Rugby League, Soccer," the letter continued.

"Without a committed and strategic approach going forward, there is no way that we can compete, or potentially even survive as a relevant football code in Australia." McLennan appears increasingly unlikely to be around for any planned revival, with the calls for his resignation growing louder by the day.

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