Ian MacRae was today elected president of the New Zealand Rugby Union, replacing Bryan Williams who has completed his two-year term, but the threat of an accidental breach of the organisation's statutes means the vice-president's seat remains empty.
MacRae, who played 45 times for New Zealand, is a long-serving administrator and coach at club and representative level in Hawke’s Bay, located on the east coast of the country's North Island. He was previously vice-president of the NZRU for two years.
Speaking after the presidential vote at the NZRU annual general meeting in Wellington today, MacRae said: "This is a wonderful opportunity for me to give back to New Zealand rugby which has served me well over many decades and I promise to do my best in representing the game here and overseas."
The vote to replace MacRae as vice-president was deferred after it emerged that one of the candidates, Mark Peters, was ineligible to stand.
Peters, who was nominated by the Tasman Rugby Football, served as a director of the NZRU until 2009, and according to a constitutional clause, former NZRU board members are not eligible for election to the role of vice-president or president for five years after ceasing their term as an NZRU director.
Peters had been due to stand against David Rhodes.
Mike Eagle, chairman of the NZRU, said: "We sincerely apologise to Mark and David for not identifying this issue earlier."
Also at today's AGM, Sir Brian Lochore, a former national team player, coach and selector, was elected as the new patron of the NZRU, replacing the late Sir Wilson Whineray, while the union unveiled plans to appoint an "appropriately experienced and qualified" woman to each of its rugby and commercial board sub-committees.
The NZRU also confirmed its 2012 financial figures, in which it posted an operating surplus of $3.2 million compared with a break-even budget - the first operating surplus since 2008. The organisation also restored its cash reserves to $51.9 million.
Eagle said: "New Zealand Rugby’s financial future is more secure as we worked hard to contain costs, grow revenue and restore our cash reserves. Significantly we face the future having secured a good portion of our income through our relationships with principal partner Adidas, Sky Television and our new major global sponsor AIG.
"With Adidas and now AIG, New Zealand Rugby has the two most valuable rugby sponsorships in the world which testifies to the power of the black jersey."