Rugby Australia chief blames ‘dark forces’ as league’s first female CEO quits

Rugby Australia's resigned chief executive Raelene Castle. (AP File Photo)
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Updated 09 May 2020

Rugby Australia chief blames ‘dark forces’ as league’s first female CEO quits

  • Raelene Castle was attacked in a ‘vicious and vitriolic way,’ particularly on social media
  • Her departure ends a turbulent reign marked by a series of crises and escalating financial problems

SYDNEY: Rugby Australia’s chairman complained Friday that the “dark forces” of online criticism had made life miserable for the organization’s first female CEO, who stepped down after a spell of intense pressure.

Paul McLean expressed his “own personal disappointment” at the way Raelene Castle had been treated before she resigned Thursday, having lost the confidence of the board.

McLean — a former fly-half who won dozens of caps for the Wallabies — paid tribute to the trailblazing Kiwi, saying a lesser person would have thrown in the towel long ago.

Castle had, he said, been attacked in a “vicious and vitriolic way,” particularly on social media, by “silent forces, dark forces.” “She shared some of that with me, which was, you know, I found quite abhorrent.”

Castle was the first woman to lead any of Australia’s major sports.

Her departure ends a turbulent reign marked by a series of crises and escalating financial problems.

The coronavirus shutdown piled further pressure on the cash-strapped governing body.

McLean said he would adopt the role of executive chairman “for a very short period” while the hunt begins for Castle’s replacement.

The ex-Wallaby captain also dismissed a letter from several of his fellow former skippers, calling for change at the top of the organization.

“Let’s be clear here, it’s a very small collective of people who’ve been involved in the game of late,” McLean said. “The significance of that group is probably people that aren’t on the list.”

Two-time World Cup-winner John Eales was among a separate group of ex-captains who criticized the letter, while Michael Lynagh asked to be removed as a signatory.

McLean said that by December this year, two-thirds of Rugby Australia’s top positions will have changed in a year.

Rugby Australia laid off most of its staff and slashed players’ pay by 60 percent as it grapples with the coronavirus crisis, which looks set to torpedo much of this year’s Wallabies schedule.

 

 

 


Al-Sharbatly wins Saudi National Guard showjumping competition

Abdullah Al-Sharbatly with the trophy. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 34 min 32 sec ago

Al-Sharbatly wins Saudi National Guard showjumping competition

  • The three-day competition was squeezed into two days due to heavy rain in Jeddah
  • About 130 horses were registered in the competition, which consisted of nine rounds, with three rounds each day

JEDDAH: Abdullah Al-Sharbatly on Saturday won the Saudi National Guard Ministry’s showjumping cup finale, which was held at the Jeddah Trio Ranch.

He received the cup from Brig. Gen. Saad Al-Ahmari, head of public relations at the Ministry of National Guards, Western Sector. He also received a cash prize of SR8,450 ($2,747) for securing first place.

Al-Sharbatly completed the show in 40:27 seconds on his horse Larry with a penalty-free score. 

Khaled Al-Mobty came second after finishing the show in 44:89 seconds, also with no penalties. He received a cash prize of SR7,150. 

Faisal Aba Al-Khail came third after ending the show in 43:33 seconds with 12 penalties.

Hasan Mohammed Al-Hadi came top in the beginners first round, followed by Khaled Mushait and Mishaal Al-Qahtani.

Mostafa Kanaan came first in the under-15 show round, followed by Oufi Rizq and Abdul -Majeed Hathir.

Khalid Al-Hadi won first place in the open round. Mohammed Bakaram came second and he was followed by Abdullah Ibrahim.

The three-day competition, which started on Thursday, was squeezed into two days due to heavy rain in Jeddah. 

It was held without spectators due to coronavirus restrictions and was organized by the Saudi Arabian Equestrian Federation, in partnership with the Ministry of National Guard and the Diriyah Gate Development Authority. Around SR130,000 in cash prizes were allocated for the winners of all classes.

The competition consisted of nine rounds, with three rounds each day. About 130 horses were registered in the competition. The fences were set at 1.15 meters for the small grade, with about 80 riders competing on the first day.

Almost 40 equestrians took part in the 1.20m-1.25m medium grade. Another 20 competitors battled it out in the 1.30m-1.35m grade on the first day of competition.