Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle has quit her post amid pressure from the board and a raft of former Wallabies captains.
She confirmed her exit on Thursday in a statement to ABC early evening show 7.30 – saying fellow senior figures at Rugby Australia had called for “clean air” in the organisation.
Castle told the programme: “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 the 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 [Paul McLean] that I would resign from the role.”
She departs in the wake of a letter to Rugby Australia from 11 former national team captains that called for the “current administration to heed our call and stand aside”.
The skippers included Nick Farr-Jones, George Gregan, Michael Lynagh and Stirling Mortlock, with the letter leaked to Australian media.
It reportedly described Australian rugby as having “lost its way” due to “poor administration and leadership over a number of years”.
The captains said: “We speak as one voice when we say Australian rugby needs new vision, leadership and a plan for the future.
“That plan must involve, as a priority, urgent steps to create a much-needed, sustainable, commercial rugby business.”
Castle recently took a 65 per cent pay cut to help Rugby Australia through the COVID-19 crisis.
However, the body revealed a provisional deficit of 9.4million Australian dollars (£4.8million) for 2019, largely due to the expense of the Rugby World Cup, fewer home Test matches, and extra expenditures such as a controversial settlement with Israel Folau.
Australia endured a disappointing World Cup performance, when they bowed out to England in the quarter-finals.
Despite beating New Zealand 47-26 in Perth in a memorable August clash in the Rugby Championship last year, the Wallabies could not get their hands on the Bledisloe Cup after suffering a thumping 36-0 defeat seven days later in Wellington.
The former captains said in their letter this week: “A number of highly experienced rugby and business leaders are standing by to mentor and lead.”
Chairman McLean described the group as “respected” and said the Rugby Australia board would “value their input”.
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