Can Raelene fix the crumbling Rugby China Castle?

If Raelene Castle thought the Canterbury Bulldogs board, supporters and coach were tough, just wait until she starts her Rugby tenure in January.

How does Des Hasler stack up against Michael Cheika, or the Bulldogs board room power struggles against the deeply divided political beast that is rugby?

Here are the ticking time bombs Castle will have to defuse when she replaces outgoing RA boss Bill Pulver.


n rugby copped an absolute battering this year, highlighted by the ugly drama that led to the Western Force being axed from Super Rugby.

Fans were fed up with the off-field drama and turned their backs on the game, compounded by the fact ‘s Super Rugby franchises failed miserably on the field.

Television numbers, crowd attendances and overall engagement all hit rock bottom. n teams lost all 26 trans-Tasman matches this year to rub salt into the wounds.

Winning games will help Castle’s transition, but her mission will be mending the broken bridges.

Rugby supporters need a clear vision to grow the game at a grassroots level, invest in female growth and to chase Wallabies success. They need something to be excited about.

The second part will be turning billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest from enemy to ally after RA went to war with the mining magnate over the Force’s future.

Ambitious: Andrew Forrest has a heart to heart with Force skipper Matt Hodsgon. Photo: Stuart Walmsley/RUGBY老域名出售.au

Castle starts with no blood on her hands and a chance to build a positive relationship with Forrest, who could be a massive asset to the future of the game if his new Indo Pacific Rugby Championship is handled with care.


The Force are gone and Super Rugby is back to 15 teams, but do people even care?

Super Rugby has become irrelevant in . The flow-on effect hurts the Wallabies, especially when they’re not winning.

is locked into the Super Rugby format until the end of the broadcast deal in 2020, but planning beyond that should start now.

There’s a strong belief a trans-Tasman model is the way of the future. New Zealand is reluctant to pursue it, but desperately needs it. Castle might be the perfect person to convince the Kiwis it’s time to breakaway from South Africa.


Michael Cheika or Des Hasler – who would you want to work with if you were the chief executive of a sporting organisation?

Both Cheika and Hasler are very unique and intent on doing things their own way. So in a way, Castle’s four years with Hasler have been the the perfect preparation to work with Wallabies coach Cheika.

The Wallabies are at a very interesting crossroads. They had an average year on the field that finished with a debacle against Scotland.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika. Photo: AP

Cheika has blooded plenty of new players to start building a team for the World Cup in 2019, but n rugby cannot afford mediocre Test results.

Cheika and Castle will have to work together, but ultimately Castle has to be the boss.


You only had to see the almost 16,000-strong crowd at the Shute Shield grand final to know n rugby has a pulse.

The problem is grassroots rugby feels completely disconnected from Super Rugby and the Wallabies.

The private-school stigma has hindered rugby’s growth, but RA released figures on Tuesday to say participation numbers of six-12-year-olds had jumped by 112 per cent in the past two years.

Funding has been a major bugbear for years and grassroots clubs feel they aren’t getting a fair share of the pie. RA said it cut the Force for financial reasons, and the savings generated by one less team are supposedly to be injected into grass roots.

Castle will need to find a way to satisfy the heartbeat of the game at an amateur level while also funding the professional model to be successful against the best teams in the world.

The last broadcast deal was supposed to prop up ‘s Super Rugby teams, but just one is expected to record a profit this year.


Castle hopes to succeed where Robbie Deans tried to break new ground. She has spent the past four years as the Bulldogs boss and was Netball New Zealand chief executive for six years prior to that.

Former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans. Photo: Simon Alekna

Castle beat former Wallabies skipper Phil Kearns for the top job. RA chairman Cameron Clyne said Castle offered “fresh eyes” and it was a “very clear choice that Raelene was absolutely the right candidate”.

Castle wasted no time pledging her Bledisloe Cup allegiance to the Wallabies. But can a New Zealand voice be the one to unite the sport in ?

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