Raelene Castle Riding the Wave
In Raelene Castle’s six months at the helm of Rugby Australia, Australia’s men and women sevens teams triumphed on home soil, Israel Folau plunged the sport into controversy with a single Instagram comment, Super Rugby couldn’t land a blow in the ratings and the Wallabies bounded in to save the day with as good a Test series as Australia has hosted in the past 15 years. And they’re just the issues that played out in public.
Castle, a New Zealander inexplicably painted as the brave choice despite being the only experienced sports administrator among the final handful of candidates for the chief executive’s role, has worked quietly but exhaustingly to get her head around the challenges facing the game in Australia.
“I use the analogy of drinking out of a fire hydrant and then suddenly you realise it’s a garden hose,” Castle, 47, says. “I’m not sure this job is ever going to be a garden hose but certainly you have a lot more confidence in how to get things done and who the key players are and working through those different elements to make sure, for the change or evolution you’re looking to make, who you need to get along for the ride.”
The international aspect of the game is something Castle believes has been underexploited in Australia. She wants the organisation to be much more bullish about the Wallabies brand overseas, using it to generate revenue to reinvest back home.
“We need to be using the Wallabies brand to make sure we’re maximising those opportunities and every dollar we can generate is an extra dollar we can invest in the rugby community and the grassroots,” she says.
“It is a brand within the rugby world that’s incredibly well-respected and the commercial opportunities that unlocks for us being an Australian organisation looking to go into the Japanese market for two and a half years with a Bledisloe [Test match], a Rugby World Cup (2019) and an Olympics (2020), could really maximise the power of the Wallaby brand.”
Original article by Georgina Robinson, The Sydney Morning Herald, June 21, 2018.
Photo by Steven Siewert.