ARU hopes to have new CEO by Christmas
Joe Barton
21:08 AEST Tue Dec 11 2012

The Australian Rugby Union hope to appoint John O'Neill's successor as chief executive before Christmas, and it wants the successful applicant to have a background in rugby union, chairman Michael Hawker says.

On Monday the ARU streamlined its organisation by adopting an independent governance model to oversee the game, adopting models currently employed by the NRL and AFL.

Hawker said the next step was to finalise a replacement for O'Neill, who stepped down in October after running rugby for 14 of the past 17 years.

The ARU is in the final interview stage and, after starting with over 50 local and international applicants, has a shortlist of around ten people left.

And unlike the NRL, which unveiled Welsh banker David Smith as its new CEO last month, Hawker says the ARU is keen to have someone with a background in its code.

Smith drew criticism for being unable to identify the current Kangaroos captain, Cameron Smith, or several indigenous NRL stars at the press conference to announce his appointment, something which is unlikely to happen when the ARU unveils O'Neill's replacement.

"We want someone who has had a background in sport, particularly we'd love to have someone in our sport," Hawker said on Tuesday.

"... Clearly what we're looking for is someone that can operate at the complex level of rugby.

"... And we're looking for people who understand how broadcast is changing as a major revenue component and broadcasting is fundamentally changing through different distribution models and the merging of broadcasting with broadband and telephony."

With the current crop of applicants having already been culled, Hawker said the ARU was in the final stages of the search.

"We'd like to be able to try and get an announcement before Christmas," he said.

"Whether we actually get that or not will (depend on) diaries and getting to actually see people.

"Because 95 per cent of these people are employed doing something else.

"... We've got to the last group and then we'll do a full set of interviews and then if there are one or two who are clear standouts we'll probably have one more round of interviews with them."

Hawker said rugby's extensive links in the business community had helped in the search for a person to take on one of the more taxing roles in sport.

"It's a challenging role but one of the great things about rugby is we've got a great alumni," he said.

"So a lot of people in the alumni are very passionate and have a lot of skills.

"A lot of them have run significant organisations (and have) a lot of commercial skills. We try to tap into that."

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