Australian rugby union chief Raelene Castle resigns

Eleven former Wallabies players signed a letter earlier demanding leadership change

Rugby Australia chief Raelene Castle during a press conference at the Rugby Australia head office in Sydney. Photograph: Getty Images

Rugby Australia chief Raelene Castle during a press conference at the Rugby Australia head office in Sydney. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Rugby Australia (RA) chief executive Raelene Castle resigned on Thursday after nearly three years at the helm, saying she believed the board no longer wanted her in the role amid a financial crisis compounded by the coronavirus shutdown.

Castle, who took a 50 per cent pay cut and laid off 75 per cent of RA staff, saying the body faced losses of up to A$120 million(€71m) if no more rugby was played this year, was under pressure to resign.

Eleven former Wallabies players, including Nick Farr-Jones, George Gregan and Michael Lynagh, had also signed a letter earlier this week demanding a leadership change at the RA.

“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,” Castle said in a statement.

“I made it clear to the board that I would stand up and take the flak 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 me no longer being the 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 (Paul McLean) that I would resign from the role.”

Castle also faced criticism for her handling of the dismissal of Wallabies fulback Israel Folau last year, the costs of which contributed to a A$9.4 million loss in 2019.

She was also criticised for rejecting an offer from Fox Sports TV to extend their broadcast deal, instead taking the rights to market and potentially leaving Rugby Australia without a television deal at the end of 2020.

The RA and the players’ union had agreed to a 60 per cent average pay cut for the country’s 192 professionals up to the end of September to keep the sport afloat during the shutdown.

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