The suddenness of the fall of the Raelene Castle era at Rugby Australia seemed to come as much as a shock to her as did the rest of the rugby world. Yet while the hunt begins for a new RA chief executive, Castle is confident her resignation won’t affect the tenure of incoming Wallabies coach Dave Rennie.
Castle offered her resignation on Thursday night after being told she no longer had the support of the RA board, joining NRL boss Todd Greenberg out the door after he also stepped down this week.
Castle met with Super Rugby chief executives on Thursday morning to plot their way through the coronavirus. The CEO seemingly had no inkling of her fate, later completing a television on Thursday afternoon where she talked of her commitment to the role despite mounting pressure.
She was however a late withdrawal from a meeting with the state chairmen to go over RA’s 2019 balance sheet and financial position. At some point during the day it was made clear to her by the board that it was time to go.
“I made it clear to the Board that I would stand up and take the flack and do everything possible to serve everyone’s best interests,” Castle said. “In the last couple of hours it has been made clear to me that the Board believes my no longer being the CEO would help give them the clear air they believe they need.”
Things reached fever pitch this week when 10 former Wallabies captains, including her possible replacement Phil Kearns, signed a letter calling for change.
She was asked by the ABC if fellow Kiwi Rennie would continue with his appointment as Test coach if she wasn’t his boss.
Before the coronavirus pandemic shut down world sport he was set to arrive Australia in June.
“I’ve got a leadership style that he supports and would like to work with,” Castle said.
“But ultimately he knows that things can change and I know he has a desperate desire to coach the Wallabies. He’s done a lot work and he’s excited about the young talent coming through.
“He will come here regardless of where I sit.”
Castle’s last year in the position was divisive, mostly due to the sacking of superstar Israel Folau and the costly legal battle which followed.
Castle stood by her decision to sack Folau after his repeated homophobic comments on social media despite it costing the financially-stretched organisation millions in a legal settlement.
“I don’t think you could go through a situation like that and not look back and think there’s some things you could have done differently,” Castle told ABC.
“But we made a decision we felt was in the best interests of the sport and we stood up for our values and at the ultimate decision point we wouldn’t have made any different decision.”
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