SYDNEY (AFP) - Rugby Australia's beleaguered chief executive Raelene Castle resigned late Thursday (April 23), a report said, ending weeks of speculation about her future triggered by the sport's dismal financial outlook.
"The game is bigger than any one individual - so this evening I told the chair that I would resign from the role," Castle said in a statement to national broadcaster ABC.
The coronavirus shutdown had ramped up the pressure on Castle, and a letter reportedly signed by 11 former Wallabies skippers circulated this week claiming the game had "lost its way".
The former New Zealand netball boss has overseen a turbulent spell for Australian rugby including star fullback Israel Folau's costly sacking for homophobia, and last year's disappointing World Cup campaign.
"I love rugby on every level and I will always love the code and the people I have had the honour of working with since I took this role," her statement reportedly said.
"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."
Australia are languishing at seventh in the world rankings and their Super Rugby teams have underperformed in recent years.
Rugby also faces fierce competition from other sports in the country.
Rugby Australia was already suffering financially before the Covid-19 crisis after agreeing to a reported multi-million dollar settlement with Folau.
"I will do whatever is needed to ensure an orderly handover. I wish the code and everyone who loves rugby nothing but the best and I would like to thank the people I work with and the broader rugby community for their enormous support," Castle said.