Raelene Castle: Rugby Australia chief executive resigns

Raelene Castle succeeded Bill Pulver as Rugby Australia chief executive in December 2017
Raelene Castle succeeded Bill Pulver as Rugby Australia chief executive in December 2017

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle has resigned after 10 former Wallabies captains signed a letter demanding a change in leadership.

Castle said she believes the board no longer wanted her in the role.

She steps down amid a financial crisis in Australian rugby union that has been compounded by the coronavirus pandemic.

"It has been made clear to me that the board believes my no longer being the CEO would help give them the clear air they believe they need," Castle said.

"The game is bigger than any one individual — so I told the chair (Paul McLean) that I would resign from the role.”

Nick Farr-Jones, the captain of the 1991 World Cup-winning team, and George Gregan were among the 10 ex-skippers to sign the letter. Michael Lynagh was originally among the signatories but withdrew his support.

Castle had taken a 50% pay cut and laid off 75% of Rugby Australia staff in an attempt to cut costs, with the body facing losses of around £62m if no more rugby was played this year.

Rugby Australia and the players' union had also agreed to a 60% average pay cut for the country's 192 professionals up to the end of September to keep the sport afloat during the shutdown.

Castle became the first woman to lead any of Australia’s major rugby or football codes when she took the role in December 2017.

She faced criticism for her handling of the sacking of Wallabies full-back Israel Folau last year, as well as the failure to agree a new TV broadcast deal.

Australia were knocked out by England in the quarter-finals of last year's men's World Cup.

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