Why Raelene Castle was the Right Choice for the Bulldogs CEO Position‏

When outgoing Chief Executive Officer Todd Greenberg announced he was leaving his post as Top Dog at the Canterbury Bulldogs to join David Smith’s senior executive team at NRL Head Office, members, fans and the NRL community all wondered who could possibly replace him.

Greenberg joined the club in 2008 at a time when the Bulldogs name, once a family club had been tarnished by a number of unsavoury incidents. He built around him a positive, successful environment that encouraged players, football staff and those in administrative positions to once again want to join the blue and white. He soon became the face of a rebranded enterprise and won the hearts and minds of the Canterbury faithful. He is leaving the club with a much stronger reputation, in a strong financial position and I have no doubt he will shine in his new position.

The search for a new leader began, and many quality applicants’ names were thrown in the ring, including former Many CEO Grant Mayer, Brumbies chief executive Andrew Fagan and Australian Rugby Union Players Association chief executive Greg Harris.

Just when it was thought a ‘typical’ appointment would be made, along came Raelene Castle. Relatively unknown in Australia, Castle has been the CEO at Netball New Zealand for the past 6 years.

Having not heard of her myself, I can only judge on the outpouring of praise from those that do, as well as her impressive commercial and corporate experience and her background in other sporting codes. Castle was instrumental in the creation of the Trans-Tasman netball tournament and has sponsorship and event experience with the Rugby World Cup and America’s Cup.

Of her appointment, Castle said “”I am excited for the opportunities ahead for this club and for rugby league and I will look to continue a Bulldogs tradition of innovation and strong leadership to ensure we can make the most of them.”

“I have grown up with rugby league. I believe my appreciation of its history and the importance of the game to the Australian sporting landscape will be an excellent platform for the business acumen I bring to this role,”

Bulldogs Chairman Ray Dib called Castle a “standout applicant” attributing this to the combination of her “business and marketing acumen” and “unrivalled experience with high performance athletes.”

I am by no means a staunch feminist, but I am glad that the person with the best credentials for the position was a woman.

Castle is the first female to be appointed to the head position at an NRL club, since the late 90’s, when the Adelaide Rams were led by Liz Dawson, and before this Donna Burke in the late 80’s at Cronulla.

Castle will join the Bulldogs on July 15, and I sincerely hope that this opens the floodgates for more women to join the game. Traditionally women have experienced a glass-ceiling in male dominated sports and unsurprisingly, there are currently very few women in senior management or board positions at NRL clubs.

Rugby League is unfortunately a sport, wrought with scandal, due to the shocking treatment of women by a minority of its players over the years. Another leadership role being filled by a woman is a great way to draw those, that have been turned off the game, back in.

I love the concept of ‘women in league’ round, a special weekend to celebrate the contribution of women in the game; players, administrators, referees, fans and partners/family. However, it is my hope, that women become synonymous with rugby league, rather than just a token round once a year.

In my opinion, the more women in the NRL the better the game will be, and as a Bulldogs supporter, I warmly welcome Raelene Castle to the club, and have faith that she will continue to do great things.

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