New Zealand Rugby (NZR) have issued a statement regarding the resignation of Rugby Australia (RA) chief executive Raelene Castle.

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The 48-year-old yesterday stood down from her role after what has been described by Australian media outlets as a “year-long bombardment” of personal attacks and criticism aimed towards the former Netball New Zealand and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs boss.

The move brings down the curtain on a tumultuous three-year tenure at the helm of Australian rugby that has divided opinion across the country.

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During that period, Castle came under fire for her handling of the Israel Folau legal battle, the lacklustre position the game finds itself in throughout Australia and the failure to secure a new TV broadcast deal, all while recording a financial loss of $9.4m for 2019.

Despite her unceremonious exit from RA’s Moore Park headquarters in Sydney, NZR have paid tribute to her contribution towards the sport across the Tasman in a glowing statement issued on Friday.

“New Zealand Rugby (NZR) would like to acknowledge the commitment, hard work and dedication Rugby Australia chief executive, Raelene Castle, has given to rugby in Australia and as our colleague on SANZAAR and at World Rugby,” the statement reads.

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“NZR has always enjoyed a special and close relationship with Rugby Australia and Raelene has worked hard to both enhance and strengthen that. We have enjoyed working with her and are sad to see her go, however we respect her decision to resign.

“It says a lot about Raelene’s character that while we consider that she still has much to contribute to Rugby Australia, she has taken an unselfish look at what is best for the game in Australia.

“NZR wishes Raelene all the very best and thanks her for her contribution to rugby.”

That media release follows on from Castle’s resignation statement provided to ABC on Thursday, which came just days after a group of former Wallabies captains signed a public letter calling for the chief executive’s head.

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“I love rugby on every level and I will always love the code and the people I have had the honour of working with since I took this role,” Castle said.

“I made it clear to the board that I would stand up and take the flak and do everything possible to serve everyone’s best interests.

“In the last couple of hours, it has been made clear to me that the board believes my no longer being CEO would help give them the clear air they believe they need.

“The game is bigger than any one individual — so this evening I told the chair that I would resign from the role.

“I will do whatever is needed to ensure an orderly handover. I wish the code and everyone who loves rugby nothing but the best and I would like to thank the people I work with and the broader rugby community for their enormous support.”

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