Australian rugby’s governance review is still months from completion but the game took an historic step today when it was announced a female director would join the ARU board for the first time.
Ann Sherry joined ARU Chairman Michael Hawker as the second independent director nominated by the board.
Sherry, the chief executive of cruise ship operator Carnival Australia and a former CEO of Westpac New Zealand, will vacate a board position on the Australian Sports Commission to take up her new role in rugby.
Hawker said the governance review being headed by General Peter Cosgrove and former federal senator Mark Arbib was still a long way off, but said Sherry’s appointment to the board was a significant moment for rugby.
‘‘The first female director of the Australian Rugby Union (has been appointed) and it shows we’re trying to move the governance of the organisation,’’ Hawker said.
‘‘We’ve got a governance review and this is a forerunner of what is going to come through the governance review.
‘‘But we felt it was very important our sport moved further forward in having a more balanced board.
‘‘They’re (Cosgrove and Arbib) are in the process of talking to as many people as they can and making sure that every stakeholder that has an interest in rugby has an opportunity to provide their views and we’re in the middle of that process.
‘‘That’s going to take another couple of months until that process is finished. We don’t want to miss anyone out and then Mark Arbib will put a report together and that will come back to the board for publication.’’
Sherry said she had experience in sport from a commercial perspective and believed she could bring a fresh set of skills to the ARU board, which had long been viewed as a boys’ club.
Her main objective was to increase participation in the sport, particularly amongst women leading into the entry of Sevens Rugby, including women’s Sevens, to the next Olympics.
‘‘It’s a fantastic signal I think about rugby in the 21st century. Changes to the game both as an Olympic sport with the advent of Sevens and more women playing rugby but also more contemporary governance and I’m very pleased to be part of that,’’ Sherry said.
‘‘Clearly I’ve never been a player or a coach ... but I’ve been engaged in sport at a whole lot of levels over a long period of time.’’
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