Rugby’s new queen of the Castle
THE long wait is officially over.
Four months after Bill Pulver announced he would be stepping down, Rugby Australia has unveiled New Zealander Raelene Castle as the organisation's first ever female chief executive.
Castle, the former Bulldogs NRL and NZ Netball boss, will make history by becoming the first female to run one of the major Australian football codes and will commence her role in the new year.
In her first press conference, Castle said that after taking a moment to reflect on her new role that she would set about building relationships across the Australian landscape.
"The first priority is to take a breath," Castle told reporters in Sydney.
"It's been a very big year, it's been a challenging year and this is about some stability moving forward.
"But it's about building the relationships with the states and the franchises, and making sure we recognise that rugby is an important game right across the country and getting out and about and meeting some of the rugby people and rugby community."
The Wagga Wagga-born Castle, who resigned as Bulldogs chief executive in May, edged out former Wallabies captain Phil Kearns for the RA position.
Kearns did not wish to comment when contacted by foxsports.com.au but wished Castle all the best in the job.
Rugby Australia chairman Cameron Clyne revealed that Castle's sports administrative experience ultimately proved to be the reason for her appointment.
"It was really the sporting administrative background (that won her the job over Kearns)," Clyne said.
"One of the great challenges in a crowded sporting market is to generate more commercial opportunities and money.
"At the heart of what we want to do is obviously grow the game right from the community level right through to the performance level - that takes money.
"What we saw in Raelene was that sports administrative background.
"She came through a very daunting interview process. We went through many, many rounds of interviews including bringing in some of the state chairmen in and I think they were also impressed that she was bringing commercial ideas to the table.
"I think also Raelene's bringing a fresh set of eyes, but not new to this market."
The game reached crisis point in 2017, blighted by poor results, shaky finances and a messy and protracted culling of the Force Super Rugby franchise.