Australian Rugby
O'Neill extends ARU reign
ESPNscrum Staff
February 21, 2011
Australian Rugby Union CEO John O'Neill talks to the media, Super 14 Season Launch, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia, February 2, 2010
Australian Rugby Union CEO John O'Neill will stay at the helm until 2013 © Getty Images

John O'Neill has had his contract as Australian Rugby Union chief executive extended until 2013.

That year is looming as a key one for the ARU as it will see the British and Irish Lions tour Australia.

It will present O'Neill and the organisation with opportunities to bring in significant revenues and it is also of importance to the playing group, as seen by the number of Wallabies to re-sign through to 2013 in recent weeks.

O'Neill's retention beyond his previous deal, which was to expire in June 2012, gives the ARU some welcome stability and continuity in a period where he will seek to convince more out of contract players plus Wallabies coach Robbie Deans to stay on beyond the World Cup.

ARU chairman Peter McGrath made the announcement on Monday following a board meeting in Sydney last Friday.

"John is a great sports administrator, with a proven track record, it's as simple as that in terms of asking him to stay beyond his existing agreement which ran through to the middle of next year," said Mr McGrath.

"He's the best man for the job as ARU looks to take advantage of some wonderful opportunities, including the British and Irish Lions tour here in two years time. In 2008 the Board signed off on a raft of strategic imperatives for the game in Australia to ensure the long-term prosperity of Rugby, and John continues to implement these imperatives.

"They included the dramatic transformation of Super Rugby and we have seen that come to life on Friday with a fifth Australian team - the Melbourne Rebels - launching an exciting and ground-breaking new format for the competition. We're delighted as a Board to have John accept new terms."

O'Neill said he was enthusiastic and optimistic about the future.

"There was an element of unfinished business to consider in making my decision," he said. "We have mapped out the pathway, the strategic vision is there, we are making progress and I would like to continue delivering on our plans to reinvigorate Australian Rugby.

"There have been a number of challenges to confront since I returned in mid 2007. However, I'm convinced we're on the right track, and I'm confident about the future on and off the field over the next period of time when continuity, leadership and stability will be enormously important.

"There is a lot to look forward to in coming years, including a return to traditional inbound tours with midweek matches from next year, the Lions visit in 2013, and the continuing emergence of Sevens Rugby now that it has reclaimed its place in the Olympic family from 2016."

O'Neill initially joined the ARU in 1995 and has remained in charge except for a three-year hiatus to oversee football's new governing body, the FFA, from 2004 to 2007.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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