Highly-regarded sports administrator Raelene Castle has today been appointed Chief Executive Officer of Rugby Australia.
The former Chief Executive Officer of National Rugby League club Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and Netball New Zealand will begin in the role January 2018 following the resignation of Bill Pulver in August.
Rugby Australia Chairman, Cameron Clyne said Castle was the standout applicant from a list of over 200 candidates which included sporting and business leaders from across the globe.
“Raelene is an extremely impressive executive who covered every base as far as what the Board was looking for in a Chief Executive Officer to lead our game into an important new chapter.
“She offers an incredible wealth of experience in sports administration and business, with an outstanding track record in commercial, marketing and communications roles.
“Through her most recent roles as CEO of the Bulldogs and Netball New Zealand, Raelene has led sporting organisations at both a national and club level, giving her an in-depth understanding of what it takes to run a national sporting body as well as the unique challenges for clubs and the importance of building strong relationships and a unity of purpose within a sporting code.
“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. In talking to Raelene, and those who have worked with her over her successful sports administration career, it is clear that she fosters environments of collaboration and high performance, always leading by example.
“Raelene will bring a fresh set of eyes to the challenges and opportunities at Rugby Australia, bringing to us her learnings from other codes.”
Castle said: “I am honoured to be joining Rugby Australia and bringing to it my commercial and sports management and marketing experience.
“Having followed Rugby closely for over 30 years and having worked in the New Zealand and Australian sporting environments for the past 10 years, there is no doubt Australian rugby has a clear international and domestic offering for both male and female athletes that can be further developed and strengthened.
“I am especially looking forward to getting out into the Rugby communities across Australia and meeting the diverse range of people that make the game tick.”
Wagga Wagga-born Castle will become the first woman to lead the national governing body for Rugby and in doing so will become the first female Chief Executive across all of the major national unions in world rugby.
Before beginning her career in sports administration with Netball New Zealand in 2007, Castle was a successful communications and marketing executive in the corporate sector. She is a former head of business marketing at Telecom NZ, communications manager at Bank of New Zealand and a marketing manager for Fuji Xerox.
She also has a rich sporting background as a former representative-level netball, tennis and lawn bowls player and as the daughter of New Zealand rugby league captain, Bruce Castle and three-time Commonwealth Games lawn bowls medallist, Marlene Castle.
Castle has held several governance roles in sport, previously serving as a board director of the ANZ Championship netball, the International Federations of Netball Associations (IFNA) and as chair of the NRL club CEOs leadership group.
Castle was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in 2015 for services to Business and Sport.
The Australian-born administrator moved to New Zealand as a young child, returning home with her partner Greg Jones in 2013 to become Chief Executive Officer of the Bulldogs.