Board games: Brumbies chairman steps down at AGM

Sport.  ACT Brumbies chairman Robert Kennedy and new CEO Michael Jones at Brumbies HQ at the University of Canberra.  5 January 2015.  Canberra Times photo by Jeffrey Chan.
Sport. ACT Brumbies chairman Robert Kennedy and new CEO Michael Jones at Brumbies HQ at the University of Canberra. 5 January 2015. Canberra Times photo by Jeffrey Chan.
Sport
Brumbies chairman Robert Kennedy and ARU's Bill Pulver enter the press conference to discuss the future of a CEO
Date: May 3 2016
The Canberra Times
Photo: Elesa Kurtz

Sport Brumbies chairman Robert Kennedy and ARU's Bill Pulver enter the press conference to discuss the future of a CEO Date: May 3 2016 The Canberra Times Photo: Elesa Kurtz

Sport
Brumbies chairman Robert Kennedy and ARU's Bill Pulver
Date: May 3 2016
The Canberra Times
Photo: Elesa Kurtz

Sport Brumbies chairman Robert Kennedy and ARU's Bill Pulver Date: May 3 2016 The Canberra Times Photo: Elesa Kurtz

The ACT Brumbies are coming to grips with their seventh major leadership change in five years after chairman Robert Kennedy stood down from his position at the annual general meeting on Wednesday night.

Kennedy will retain his position on the ACT Rugby Union board, but will be replaced by Phil Thomson in the chairman's role.

The move means Thomson has filled almost every administration position at the Brumbies having been a former team manager, an interim chief executive last year, a board member and now as chairman.

Kennedy is adamant the Super Rugby club is in a strong position to cope with another significant change, insisting the Brumbies can flourish under the leadership of Thomson and chief executive Michael Thomson.

The Brumbies have had three chairmans and four chief executives since the end of 2013, coinciding with the most turbulent period in the club's history.

Kennedy was at the coalface of a bitter dispute with former boss Michael Jones last year and worked with Michael Thomson this year to save the Brumbies from being axed from Super Rugby.

Kennedy said the time was right for change after a three-year tenure, maintaining his board position but freeing up time to focus on his business and family as he prepares for the arrival of his second child.

"From my point of view, I feel I've got the organisation in a better place than when I inherited it a few years ago," Kennedy said.

"We went backwards before we went forward. But I'm confident I'm handing this on in a better place and confident in Phil Thomson stepping into that role. He will take the organisation forward, I'm sure of that."

The Brumbies announced a profit of $14,361 at the AGM, an almost $900,000 turnaround after losing more than $3 million in the previous three years.

Board member Carmel McGregor also stood down at the meeting, but the organisation will delay filling its two vacant director positions until next year. Matt Nobbs was re-elected and appointed deputy chairman.

Phil Thomson was the Brumbies acting boss for six months last year before Michael Thomson stepped into a full-time role in January.

Phil Thomson.

Phil Thomson. Photo: Karleen Minney

"I think it's a really nice progression. Rob came in at a really tough time, he's done a great job steadying the ship. I think we're starting to go forward quite nicely," Michael Thomson said.

"Phil certainly brings so much around credibility in rugby union, his level of integrity and honesty ... he knows what it's like to run the club.

"He'll bring another level of stability and another level of opportunity for us."

Kennedy replaced Sean Hammond in 2014 after previously being on the Brumbies finance and audit committee. He has been a foundation sponsor of the Brumbies since 1996.

But nothing could have prepared him for the storm that followed after becoming chairman as relationships between the Brumbies and key stakeholders were fractured, including an ugly ACT rugby union war that led to Jones' departure.

More drama was to follow when the Rugby Australia, formerly the ARU, decided it was time to axe a team from Super Rugby.

The Brumbies were on the chopping block alongside the Western Force and Melbourne Rebels, forcing the two-time champions to fight for their future.

The Force was exiled while RA said it spared the Brumbies because of their rich history and a solid financial position.

"If we had put a foot wrong a couple times during that period, we could have been where the Force ended up," Kennedy said.

"I wouldn't say it [being chairman] took a toll on me, it will be one of my life experiences.

"I didn't ask to be put in this role. [When I started] we didn't have a chairman, a chief executive, a major sponsor and we'd lost $1.6 million the year before, so it was one of the bigger challenges I've had.

"But as a lifetime rugby supporter ... it was an honour and a privileged. I did the best I could in the circumstances and I'm confident with where the organisation is."

Kennedy also implemented a board restructure and nominations committee to align with the Australian Sports Commission best practice model.

This story Board games: Brumbies chairman steps down at AGM first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.