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Volume 6 No. 214
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New Zealander Raelene Castle Confirmed As Rugby Australia's New CEO

Former National Rugby League side Canterbury Bulldogs CEO Raelene Castle was confirmed as Rugby Australia's new CEO, according to Tom Decent of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Rugby Australia -- formerly the Australian Rugby Union -- had a "tumultuous" year off the field and its rebrand in October shows the organization is "keen to move in a fresh direction." Rugby Australia Chair Cameron Clyne said that Castle was the "standout applicant" from a list of more than 200 candidates, which included sporting and business leaders from across the globe (SMH, 12/12). In Sydney, Andrew Webster wrote female. Kiwi. Last job in rugby league. Castle said, "Four years ago, they said the same thing when I joined the Bulldogs. They said, 'Kiwi, female going into the blokey world of rugby league. ... Who the bloody hell would've thought that was a good idea?' Four years later, people who are close enough to rugby league would say, 'She survived, she built some good relationships and did some good things.' I did that because of who I am as a business person and an individual. I don't want people to speak about me being a good female administrator. I want to be known as a good administrator." Castle "stands on her own two feet" as an accomplished sporting exec, having "survived five tricky years" as the CEO of the Bulldogs and six years before that at the helm of Netball New Zealand. She said, "While the female angle is not for me to make a focus, I am proud to be the first female CEO of a major rugby country" (SMH, 12/12).

'FRESH SET OF EYES': In Sydney, Wayne Smith wrote "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" seems like an "appropriate motto" for Castle. It has been "that sort of year for Australian rugby." Defeats at the hands of New Zealand teams in Super Rugby, a 15th straight season without a sight of the Bledisloe Cup, another "embarrassing loss" to England and twin defeats to Scotland. Castle "had a role in none of this" and, until she was offered her new job on Monday, her "natural instinct would have been to rejoice in how her native New Zealand continued to make life miserable for Australian rugby." But it is "her responsibility now," and it was "heartening to see that her initial response was to regroup and come out stronger." Castle said, "I think the nature of sport is that you will have challenging years, but if you look back to the last World Cup (in '15), the Wallabies were in the final. Everyone seems to have forgotten that quite quickly. It was a tough year. No one’s hiding from that but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger." She is not a rugby insider but, as Clyne acknowledged, that is "not necessarily a problem." Clyne said, "You can always look at it from both sides, coming in with rugby knowledge. Raelene is a fresh set of eyes without traditional alliances" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 12/13).