Raelene Castle, Australia
CEO of Rugby Australia
Raelene Castle has one of the toughest jobs in world sport. The CEO of Rugby Australia is arguably presiding over a sport at its lowest ebb for the Green and Gold. Stuttering on the field at national team level, failing to draw crowds on the club scene, and fighting off advances from Aussie rules, cricket, rugby league and even football – rugby union is not in a great place Down Under. After a year in the job, and these challenges not enough – Castle has also found herself at the centre of controversy surrounding one of their biggest assets, Israel Folau. Add to this she’s a Kiwi, and you’ll understand the pressure she finds herself under. A castle is strong of structure however, and this one is no different. Raelene Castle is a giant of Antipodean sport – having held numerous power positions. In 2007 she was appointed CEO of Netball New Zealand, in the six years in that position unprecedented growth followed. Her trademark in the role was innovation in the leadership of the organisation and its governance – and a whopping 66 per cent growth in commercial revenue through broadcast and sponsorship. This success took her to the Canterbury Bulldogs – once again in the role of CEO. The move made her one of the most influential women in the world of rugby league – in a difficult role, and a club that has always been synonymous for its family ties. Her tenure wasn’t without its tensions and controversies, but she left in 2017 with acknowledgement in the club that she had strengthened it in all parts and had laid a solid platform for her successor. And that leads us to Rugby Australia. A poisoned chalice, or huge opportunity? Some suggest she is fighting an uphill battle, while others say even the smallest of improvements can help cement a real legacy in the role.
– Castle was the first women to hold the position of CEO in the National Rugby League.
– She is an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to sport and business.
– Her parents are both renowned sports stars – father, Bruce, captained the NZ Rugby League team, and mum Marlene, represented the country four times at the Commonwealth Games in lawn bowls.
Did you know…
Castle suffers from alopecia and has used a variety of extensions wigs, and bandanas to alter her appearance over the years.
“I have used that word ‘daunting,’ but I would prefer to use ‘exciting,’ because I genuinely believe it is an exciting sport that has an international landscape that no other sport in this country has.” – Raelene Castle
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