Castle unveiled as Rugby Australia CEO

Former Netball New Zealand and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs chief executive Raelene Castle has been appointed Rugby Australia chief executive in another piece of sports administration history.

Castle is the first woman to lead Australian rugby’s national governing body, and the first female CEO across the major national unions in world rugby.

Rugby Australia chairman Cameron Clyne said that Castle was the standout applicant from a list of more than 200 candidates including sporting and business leaders from across the globe.She will begin in the role January 2018, following the resignation of Bill Pulver in August.

“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 into an important new chapter,” Clyne said in a Rugby Australia press release.

“She offers an incredible wealth of experience in sports administration and business, with an outstanding track record in commercial, marketing and communications roles.

“Through her most recent roles as CEO of the Bulldogs and Netball New Zealand, Raelene has led sporting organisations 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 and a unity of purpose within a sporting code.

“Raelene impressed the board with her vision for rugby and her clear understanding of what needs to be done to strengthen and unite the code at all levels. In talking to Raelene, and those who have worked with her over her successful sports administration career, it is clear that she fosters environments of collaboration and high performance, always leading by example.

“Raelene will bring a fresh set of eyes to the challenges and opportunities at Rugby Australia, bringing to us her learnings from other codes.”

Castle said she was “honoured to be joining Rugby Australia and bringing to it my commercial and sports management and marketing experience”.

“Having followed rugby closely for over 30 years and having worked in the New Zealand and Australian sporting environments for the past 10 years, there is no doubt Australian rugby has a clear international and domestic offering for both male and female athletes that can be further developed and strengthened.

“I am especially looking forward to getting out into the rugby communities across Australia and meeting the diverse range of people that make the game tick.”

Castle was a successful communications and marketing executive in the corporate sector before her career in sports administration.

She is a former head of business marketing at Telecom NZ, communications manager at Bank of New Zealand and a marketing manager for Fuji Xerox.

She also has a rich sporting background as a former representative-level netball, tennis and lawn bowls player, and as the daughter of former New Zealand rugby league captain Bruce Castle and three-time Commonwealth Games lawn bowls medal winner Marlene Castle.

Castle has held several governance roles in sport, previously serving as a board director of netball’s ANZ Championship and the International Federations of Netball Associations, and as chair of the NRL club chief executive leadership group.

She was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2015 for services to Business and Sport.