By NZ Herald

Raelene Castle’s future as Rugby Australia chief executive could be in doubt as the national body scrambles to find a new broadcasting partner.

Incumbent rights-holder Foxtel, announced on Wednesday that its talks had come to an end with Rugby Australia, following a lengthy period of negotiations.

Rugby Australia will now take test match and Super Rugby rights to the market, with Optus appearing to be the only serious bidder.

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Their search for a new broadcast deal has, as a result, left Castle’s position hanging in the balance according to The Sydney Morning Herald chief rugby reporter Georgina Robinson.

Robinson told Wide World of Sports Radio on 2BG, she believed Castle’s position was “entirely dependent” on what happens with the new deal.

“If their initial instincts are correct, their research is correct, there is competitive tension, and she can secure a decent deal for rugby in the current environment because no one is handing out dollars for free, then she will stay on,” Robinson said.

“If she can’t and Fox don’t put a bid in and Optus lowballs, then Raelene Castle won’t see out the end of March.”

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In 2015, Foxtel agreed to pay A$285 million ($296m) over five years to Rugby Australia but the pay-TV broadcaster was only willing to bid in the mid-A$30m. Optus is reportedly willing to top that.

Fox Sports, however, is the only broadcaster of the Super Rugby competition in Australia.

“It’s not just what Fox or Optus would be prepared to pay for it,” Robinson added.

“It’s actually what the other partners such as South Africa, New Zealand and broadcaster in the UK are prepared to pay.

“Because that’s where the 148 per cent increase came from this time five years ago.”

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Meanwhile, New Zealand and South Africa both confirmed their respective broadcasting partnerships through 2025 last year.

New Zealand Rugby signed back on with Sky in a deal which will see All Blacks tests (excluding the World Cup), Super Rugby matches, Mitre 10 Cup and other domestic competitions televised on the platform.

NZR became a five per cent shareholder in the company as part of the deal.

This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and was republished with permission.

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