Rugby Australia could lose more than just their chief executive should Raelene Castle be axed from her position.
According to a report from the Sydney Morning Herald, incoming Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie would reconsider his future if Castle is let go by RA.
Castle has come under heavy criticism in recent times as the coronavirus pandemic has laid bare RA’s financial issues and forced the organisation to further delay its broadcast deal negotiations.
With no rugby to be played for the foreseeable future, the professional and community game faces an uncertain future as RA stares down the barrel of a financial loss of up to $120 million.
Rennie, who was seeing out the remainder of the PRO14 campaign with the Glasgow Warriors before coronavirus halted its progress, was due to join the Wallabies set-up before their test series against Ireland in July.
The SMH reports that Rennie is rattled by speculation over Castle’s future, and would reassess his plans if she was sacked.
The two-time Super Rugby-winning coach has spoken highly of Castle since signing on with RA, citing that his decision to take the Wallabies job offer came from a long lunch with the former Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and Netball New Zealand boss last year.
For all the havoc that COVID-19 has wreaked since it exploded into life, it may have provided Kiwi rugby with at least one small silver lining.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 6, 2020
“I had a lot of time to think about it. I got an approach from Australia reasonably early on, so I did my homework,” he said in January.
“Raelene flew to Jersey, we had a sit down for a few hours. She really impressed me. Smart and tough, really keen for change, and driven. The fact I know [director of rugby Scott Johnson], I felt the leadership here was really strong, I felt they’d have my back. That was a big part of it.”
Rennie’s acquisition at the end of 2019 was a big win for RA after two years of disappointment which culminated in poor test results, the Israel Folau drama and a quarter-final exit at the World Cup.
The 56-year-old only put pen to paper for the Wallabies job after Castle and director of rugby Scott Johnson spent six months trying to lure the former Chiefs and New Zealand U20 coach from his job in Scotland.
Should Rennie follow Castle out the door in Australia, it would undo a significant amount of work which led to the signing of one of the most world’s most highly-regarded coaches.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 5, 2020
Without Rennie at the helm, the Wallabies would have no head coach, which could force Johnson to step in as interim head coach alongside assistants Scott Wisemantel and Matt Taylor.
Brumbies boss Dan McKellar was understood to have been pursued by Rennie and Johnson as the new forwards coach for the Wallabies, and he could act as an emergency option if need be.
Castle said last week that RA’s cost-cutting efforts – which has seen her own salary slashed by 50 percent, staff wages drop by 30 percent and 75 percent of staff stood down until July 1 – wouldn’t impact Rennie immediately.
The organisation is currently staring down a revenue hole of $120 million if faced with the worst-case scenario of no rugby being played for the remainder of the year.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now