The Rugby Australia boss had been under enormous pressure of late
Raelene Castle resigns as Rugby Australia CEO
After a period of sustained pressure, Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle has stepped down from her position as Chief Executive.
Castle resigned after the RA board made it clear on Thursday afternoon that the CEO no longer had the support of the group. It has not been an easy few years for rugby union Down Under.
It made global headlines when earlier in the week a number of former Wallabies skipper sent a letter to the RA board, demanding a change of administration, stating that the sport had “lost its way.” Among the 11 co-signatories were Nick Farr-Jones and Phil Kearns, who have both been touted as potential replacements for Castle.
There have been other rocky moments for the Australians during the last few years. The main topics of discussion at the moment are the sport’s precarious finances and the uncertainty over deals for broadcasting rights and the imapct of coronavirus-enforced shut-downs.
We witnessed the drawn-out legal fight with former star player Israel Folau, after the full-back posted religious messages on his social media account that generated controversy and opposed the union’s, and sport’s, stated values. There was also talk of a fall-out with former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika and the team’s most recent Rugby World Cup performance came in for scrutiny.
However, Castle’s supporters have pointed out that the executive inherited a large number of problems and in the meantime has overseen a bolstering of the nation’s junior sides, and it looks as if Australia have a strong chance at securing the hosting rights for the 2027 World Cup. And Castle had made some impressive hires for the new Wallabies coaching set-up, led by highly-rated Kiwi boss Dave Rennie.
In a statement provided to ABC, Castle said: “I love rugby on every level and I will always love the code and the people I have had the honour of working with since I took this role. I made it clear to the board that I would stand up and take the flack and do everything possible to serve everyone’s best interests.
“In the last couple of hours, it has been made clear to me that the board believes my no longer being CEO would help give them the clear air they believe they need. The game is bigger than any one individual – so this evening I told the Chair that I would resign from the role.
“I will do whatever is needed to ensure an orderly handover. I wish the code and everyone who loves rugby nothing but the best and I would like to thank the people I work with and the broader rugby community for their enormous support.”
The biggest question the Rugby Australia board now face is: who will replace her? There may be an internal selection process, from within the board; there is the push for Farr-Jones or Kearns; they may seek some outside influence.
There is also the small matter of the election for the next World Rugby chairman, with an electronic vote held next week and results shared on 12 May.
Australia get three votes, as they have three spots on the World Rugby council. Castle held one spot alongside Paul McLean and Brett Robinson. It is yet to be clarified what will happen with RA’s third spot, following Castle’s call.
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