NHRU: Newcastle Hunter Rugby Union boss Phil Payne stands down

BREAK: Phil Payne.NEWCASTLE and Hunter Rugby Union will start next season with a new president and general manager after Phil Payne’s decision not to seek re-election.
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Payne told the board this week that he was standing down as president after 14 years at the helm.

The former Hamilton second-rower will also relinquish his position on the NSW Country Rugby Union board.

Payne’s decision follows the sudden resignation of general manager Shelley Youman in September after less than five months in the job.

Her predecessor, Fenton Coull, who retired in April, has been acting in a caretaker role.

The board will advertise the position, which is primarily an administration role, from this weekend.

Payne was one of four board members up for election.

Board members serve two-year terms with half the board up for election each year.

Greg Sellers, Ray Warry and John Tate are expected to stand again.

Nominations for the board, including president, close on Friday. Club delegates will vote on the board positions at the annual general meeting at No.2 Sportsground on November 24.

Payne was elected as president in 2000 after serving as vice-president of the Newcastle Wildfires before their axing from the Sydney competition.

‘‘I have had 14 years in the job and I think it is time to hand over to someone else,’’ Payne said.

‘‘Adding to the decision is that fact I am travelling overseas for three months from January. You can’t be president and be away for a quarter of the season at an important time of the year.

‘‘I have offered to assist in any way.

‘‘At the moment I am acting GM because Fenton is away.

‘‘In terms of the board I will be taking a total break. Same with Country.’’

Payne was ‘‘proud’’ of the growth and improved financial position of the union under his charge.

‘‘We have achieved an enormous amount of things,’’ he said. ‘‘The first Test match in Newcastle, the redevelopment of No.2, the British and Irish Lions visit, six straight Country championships, we have an increase in sponsorship, the introduction of a full-time general manager … all those sorts of things are the positives which I am proud of.’’

The low point of Payne’s term was the board’s four-year battle with Easts over their relegation from Premier Rugby in 2009, eventually resolved in 2013 through court-ordered mediation.

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