History making Raelene Castle looks for stability in new Rugby Australia role
Taking up her new role as Chief Executive of Rugby Australia yesterday, Raelene Castle created history as the first woman to lead a major Australian football code.
Castle, whose father captained New Zealand’s rugby league side, officially began her first day leading rugby union on Monday, welcomed with an Indigenous smoking ceremony, symbolic of diversity and inclusion.
With 2017 having been a difficult year for the sport both on and off the field, the former Chief Executive of the Canterbury Bulldogs NRL club and Netball New Zealand is striving for stability and improved performances in super rugby.
Castle explained “there's no doubt there have been challenges in rugby over the last 12 months.
"It's really bringing back those relationships and working together and facing the same direction that's how you move a sport forward.
Looking to repair relationships with the West Australian rugby community and chart a way forward for Western Force backer Andrew Forrest, Castle’s first task will be meeting with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.
Commenting on the meeting, being held today (Tuesday 16th January), Castle stated “at this stage it's getting to know one another. The relationship between the CEO coach and is incredibly important and it's about making sure we find an engagement that works really well that we can help each other and work closely together.”
Australia's worst ever defeat to Scotland last November saw the Wallabies slide to fourth in the world rankings. However, Castle said she believed the national side still had a strong brand, adding “the Wallabies need to perform, there's no doubt about that.
“For (Cheika) it's important not only that the Wallabies are successful but the building blocks underneath are crucial, so that we continue to produce quality athletes."
Another immediate challenge facing Castle will be addressing Karmichael Hunt's latest drug scandal.
The Queensland Reds back was charged with drug possession last month, two years after he was fined and suspended after pleading guilty to cocaine possession.
Castle did not rule out a future zero tolerance policy on drugs either, adding "the reality for young athletes is that there's a chance to make a mistake and be forgiven for that, but if you keep making mistakes that makes the conversation much more challenging.”
Images: Raelene Castle at the announcement of her appointment as Chief Executive of Rugby Australia (top) and Rugby Australia Chairman Cameron Clyne (below).
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