Former Wales captain Gwyn Jones says chairman David Pickering lost his job because Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) member clubs are dissatisfied with chief executive Roger Lewis.
Dragons chief executive Gareth Davies and former Wales prop Anthony Buchanan were voted onto the union's board at Pickering's expense.
"They had no avenue to sack Roger Lewis," said Jones.
"They could sack the next best man David Pickering and he's gone."
Pickering, chairman since 2003, will stand down at the WRU's AGM on 19 October when the 18-strong board will be reformed.
The Welsh Rugby Union and four regions signed a six-year agreement in August to end nearly two years of a fraught dispute over funding.
Jones, who was forced to retire as a player after suffering a spinal injury while playing for Cardiff in 1997, believes the row was a factor in Pickering failing to get re-elected.
"No doubt I think the regions versus union debate was becoming embarrassing," said Jones.
"It was a saga that people wanted some closure to."
There was also "major dissatisfaction" among the clubs at the way in which the union "was running the game" according to Jones, particularly the way the restructuring of changes to the national leagues was handled.
Jones believes the appointment of Davies, who was non-committal when asked about whether he would be interested in taking the chairman's role, is telling.
"Also I think quite significant is the fact that they've elected a member of the regions onto the board," said Jones, "which signifies that they want an end to the 'us versus them' politics that we've had.
"The next question is who's going to be the chairman of the board?
"How will Roger Lewis, who's had so much power in Wales working hand in glove with David Pickering, manage the situation from now on?"
The WRU has previously maintained that it does a lot for the game in Wales.
It spent £7m on the community game last year and employs more than 60 staff focused on grassroots rugby.
In response to Jones' comments the WRU said: "The WRU will focus on its remit and will not enter media comment based on speculation and opinion."