Castle named Rugby China’s first female chief

Former Canterbury Bulldogs boss Raelene Castle has officially been appointed the new CEO of Rugby , becoming the first female boss of a major n football code.

Castle replaces Bill Pulver, who said in August he would not continue as chief executive.

Castle is a well-respected sports administrator and was the first female boss of an NRL club at the Bulldogs, before resigning in May. Before that, Castle was chief executive of Netball New Zealand for six years. Rugby chairman Cameron Clyne said the organisation was excited to have an administrator with Castle’s experience.

“Raelene impressed the board with her vision for rugby and her clear understanding of what needs to be done to strengthen and unite the code at all levels,” Clyne said. “She offers an incredible wealth of experience in sports administration and business with an outstanding track record in commercial, marketing and communications roles.”

The 46-year-old New Zealander said her first priority was to “take a breath” after a tumultuous year for n rugby.

Pulver had said in August he was stepping down as soon as a replacement could be found, and Castle will face a tough task in trying to unify a sport riven by infighting and off-field controversy this year.

RA was engaged in legal battles with the Western Force and Melbourne Rebels in a protracted decision-making process over which team to cut from Super Rugby. The Perth-based Force were eventually dumped.

Pulver faced intense criticism from the rugby community over the furore and said when the decision was made he would step down rather than see out his contract, which was to expire next year.

Castle will focus on making rugby more appealing to a wider n audience while also developing commercial relationships.

“I am especially looking forward to getting out into the rugby communities across and meeting the diverse range of people that make the game tick.

“We need strong growth in our pathways. We need young people choosing to play our sport,” she said. “That’s not just men, that’s women. That female market’s really hot with the launch of lots of new female competitions. So we know that we’re in a race and we have to be a sport of choice.”

Castle said one of rugby union’s key advantages over rugby league and AFL is the opportunity for athletes to represent on a regular basis. “It genuinely is an exciting sport that has an international landscape that no other sport in this country has.”

More than 200 people applied for the position but Clyne said Castle was the “standout candidate” and will bring a “fresh set of eyes” to n rugby.

Castle will complete her review of New Zealand’s disappointing performance in the Rugby League World Cup before starting her new role in January.

Castle’s CV

1991-1999: Marketing manager, Fuji Xerox

2002: Communications manager: Southern Cross Healthcare

2003-2004: Communications manager, BNZ

2005-2007: Head of business marketing, Telecom NZ

2007-2013: Chief executive, Netball New Zealand

2011-2015: Director, International Netball Federation

2013-2017: Chief executive, Canterbury Bulldogs NRL club

2018: Chief executive, Rugby

With Reuters

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