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December 13, 2017

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Castle named Rugby Australia’s first female chief

RAELENE Castle will take over as chief executive officer at Rugby Australia next month, becoming the first woman to lead one of the major national unions in world rugby.

Castle, who has been CEO at Netball New Zealand and at the Canterbury Bulldogs in Australia’s National Rugby League, will replace Bill Pulver on January 15.

Rugby Australia Chairman Cameron Clyne announced the appointment yesterday, saying Castle was the standout applicant among 200-plus candidates.

“The reality is sport has gender equity in it,” Castle said. “So I don’t think it’s an enormous step to have a female chief executive. I’m excited about the opportunity. My experience in rugby league was very strong. I don’t expect my experience in rugby union to be any different.”

Castle’s other governance roles in sport have included serving as a board director of the International Federations of Netball Associations and as chair of the NRL club CEOs leadership group.

Clyne said Castle would bring “a fresh set of eyes to the challenges and opportunities at Rugby Australia”.

“Through her most recent roles as CEO of the Bulldogs and Netball New Zealand, Raelene has led sporting organizations at both a national and club level, giving her an in-depth understanding of what it takes to run a national sporting body as well as the unique challenges for clubs and the importance of building strong relationships within,” the sport, he said.

“Raelene is an extremely impressive executive who covered every base as far as what the board was looking for in a chief executive officer to lead our game...”

Castle was born in Australia and moved to New Zealand as a child, returning to Sydney in 2013 to take the job at the Bulldogs. Castle is the first woman to lead one of Australia’s four national football governing bodies, and Rugby Australia said she is the first woman to lead one of the world’s top-tier rugby national governing bodies.

Rugby in Australia has had a tumultuous year, with months of uncertainty leading up to the scrapping of the Western Force from the Super Rugby tournament and some setbacks for the Wallabies on the field — including a 15th consecutive series loss to World Cup champion New Zealand in the Bledisloe Cup.


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