Castle: Super Rugby success vital for Australia
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Australia's Super Rugby teams can play a vital role in lifting the game after a tumultuous 2017 season, says new Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle.
Castle started her new role as Chief Executive Officer on Monday and success on the field and stability within the game in Australia is part of her focus areas this year.
“There need to be better performances in Super Rugby this year," Castle told reporters in Sydney. "That’s the way that builds the platform for what people expect and how they engage with rugby.
"[We want to see] some stability and some moving forward that people can see across ... the performance of the Wallabies, community engagement, making sure we've got some strong commercial programmes in place.
"Those'll be the measures across the sport that people will say, 'what does success look like in the first 12 months?'"
Castle said she will be working closely with Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika.
"The relationship between the CEO and the coach is incredibly important and it's about making sure that we find an engagement that works really well that we can help each other and work closely together," she said.
"At the moment I'm really in the information-gathering stage because it is very early days.
"It's a bit like drinking out of the fire hydrant, it comes at you really quickly and you only get a little bit of it, so that's what’s going to be important to make sure I've really got that key pieces of feedback."
Australia's Super Rugby teams failed to beat a New Zealand team last year with the Brumbies the only Aussie side to qualify for the play-offs due to an unpopular ranking system.
Australia's Super Rugby sides were cut from five to four teams for the 2018 season and there is hope that this will lead to more success. However, for Castle, there is still a concern that there is not enough talent coming through the system.
"If we're developing the talent, we want to make sure we keep hold of the best of them in that place where they're playing schoolboy rugby XVs, which is such an important part of many schools and what success looks like from those schools," she said.
"We need to make sure we're capturing those athletes as they move into that semi-professional and professional space.
"That is an important transition - we have lost too many to Rugby League over the time, so that is something we'll be looking to make sure we shore up."
Sources: Reuters & rugby.com.au