First, the Black Ferns claimed the World Rugby’s team of the year awards and now New Zealander Raelene Castle has become the first woman to be appointed chief executive 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.
New Zealander 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.
Born in Australia she 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.
She 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.
Commenting on her appointment, 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,"
New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew said Castle’s appointment heralded a new era for international rugby.
"We congratulate Raelene on her appointment, which is an acknowledgement of her strength as a leader, and her ability to drive success both on and off the field.
"I have known Raelene for a number of years, and have a huge regard for her and we are really looking forward to working with her.
"New Zealand Rugby has enjoyed a close and open relationship with Bill Pulver and we thank him for his courageous leadership including managing the change that was necessary this year," Tew said.