Raelene Castle has announced her resignation as chief executive of Rugby Australia after a tumultuous tenure.
The first woman to hold the top job within Australia’s union, Castle’s time in charge rarely came with any respite since her appointment in December 2017.
Embroiled in a wrongful termination dispute with shamed Wallabies star Israel Folau, riding the storm of a quarter-final exit at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and negotiating over the past few weeks with the country’s players union to enact a wide-ranging salary cap for Australia’s player base have all been issues Castle has been needed to address.
The pressure had been growing on Castle before it reached its highest point when 11 former Wallabies captains delivered a vote of no confidence in a signed letter calling for change.
This, together with being ghosted from taking part in a board conference call, appears to have been the final straw for Castle.
In a statement provided to the ABC, Castle said: “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.
“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.”
Rugby Australia and the Rugby Union Players Association struck a deal earlier this week for players to take a 60 per cent cut to their salaries, ensuring the sport’s short-term financial security.
The Union stood down 75 per cent of its workforce late last month, after announcing a financial loss of £4.83m.
Its financial position had already been exacerbated by agreeing to a settlement with Israel Folau.
Super Rugby’s record tryscorer was sacked by Rugby Australia, ending his international career and representation with the NSW Waratahs after he made homphobic social media posts.
Folau lodged a civil dispute against Rugby Australia and was waged for over six months, before Rugby Australia agreed to an out-of-court settlement reported to be £1.5m.