The blow torch is being turned on Australian rugby boss Raelene Castle, with a claim her mistakes have left the financially troubled union exposed in the Israel Folau scandal.

New Zealander Castle, appointed as Rugby Australia's chief executive in late 2017, has faced a nightmare situation after the game's highest profile player repeated his offensive media posts about homosexuals.

But the Sydney Morning Herald has strongly inferred that it is a nightmare heavily of her own making.

Raelene Castle...will she survive the Israel Folalu scandal? Photo / Getty Images
Raelene Castle...will she survive the Israel Folalu scandal? Photo / Getty Images

And the pressure has increased on Castle with a former player boss and Waratahs chief executive Greg Harris criticising her management, and comparing the Folau fallout to the way another problematic Wallaby star Kurtley Beale was handled.

Advertisement

Under a headline "Contract debacle that left rugby vulnerable in Folau storm", senior rugby writer Georgina Robinson pinpointed two key errors in the contract negotiations, after the controversy around Folau first erupted last year.

"Castle and her executive team, including head of player contracting Nick Taylor, will not escape scrutiny for their contributions to the crisis that has gripped the code since Folau's April 10 Instagram post condemning gay people to hell," she wrote.

"Their oversights appear to have left RA exposed and on shaky legal ground in the ensuing storm."

Today looms as D-day for Israel Folau.
Today looms as D-day for Israel Folau.

Castle and Folau met as the Wallabies were building up to the test against England in London last November.

Castle wanted him to sign an additional clause to his contract, signed a month earlier, that would prevent him bringing the game into disrepute via social media.

"Castle wanted to cement their relationship after a rocky year but, crucially, also to talk him around to agreeing to something someone had forgotten to include in the original contract Folau had signed on October 10," Robinson reported.

When the crisis erupted again this year that clause would have enabled RA to terminate his four-year deal when he went public again with his anti-gay message.

But this attempt failed, and Castle was left relying on a "handshake agreement" with Folau plus the standard code of conduct clauses.

Advertisement

Rugby Australia has been backed by a high-powered independent legal panel in its efforts to sever ties with Folau, but remains exposed to the likelihood of an appeal and expensive payout. It has also appeared to procrastinate in the face of Folau's actions.

It is also claimed that Castle erred by never seeking Rugby Union Players' Association consent, meaning that any amendment to the Folau contract would have been potentially invalid anyway.

Harris, a former RUPA chief, told the SMH: "This should have been handled a lot more swiftly, first in terms of the contract, and then because instead of going to the code of conduct, they could have fined and suspended him and been done with it."

The story revealed that when Rugby Australia wanted to sack Kurtley Beale in 2014, his new deal contained specific behaviour clauses agreed to by the player and agent Isaac Moses. (Beale's career was in trouble after he sent a lewd test to a Wallaby official.)

Moses has also represented Folau for a long time, although their relationship has reportedly become strained.