April 4, 2020 / 3:43 AM / 2 months ago

Rugby-Rugby Australia chief executive Castle set for axe: reports

SYDNEY, April 4 (Reuters) - Rugby Australia’s chief executive Raelene Castle could be sacked in a matter of days, local media reported on Saturday, as the embattled governing body struggles to deal with a financial crisis compounded by the coronavirus shutdown.

Castle this week took a 50% pay cut and laid off 75% of Rugby Australia staff, saying the body faced losses of up to A$120 million ($71.94 million) if no more rugby was played this year.

With no pay agreement secured with the players, and their representatives saying they had yet to be shown sufficient financial information to enter into negotiations over cuts, the sport has endured another week of negative headlines.

The Australian and The Daily Telegraph both reported that Castle had lost the confidence of a board to which three new members were added at this week’s Annual General Meeting.

Former Australia captain Phil Kearns, who lost out when New Zealander Castle was appointed in 2017, was named as her likely successor by both newspapers.

Rugby Australia was unavailable to comment on the reports.

Castle took significant flak for her handling of the dismissal of Wallabies fullback Israel Folau last year, the costs of which contributed to a A$9.4 million loss in 2019.

She has also been criticised for spurning an offer from Fox Sports TV to extend their broadcast deal and instead taking the rights to market, potentially leaving Rugby Australia without a television deal at the end of 2020.

$1 = 1.6681 Australian dollars Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford

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