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NEWS: Castle and Robertson to headline 2020 Captains Lunch

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Second annual Captains Lunch will celebrate female leadership in sport and business.

Get your tickets here!


Posted: 31 March 2020

The Captains Lunch at Eden Park in Auckland on 8 May 2020 has been postponed, due to New Zealand’s current COVID-19 lock-down. Ticket sales on hold and refunds available. Please visit the event page to find out more.

Posted: 16 February 2020

This following announcement was first published exclusively in the Sunday Star Times and on

Click to read a great profile: “Raelene Castle: the brave kiwi leader of Rugby Australia stays calm under fire”

The Captains Lunch will feature:

  • Keynote address from sports leader Raelene Castle ONZM, followed by a live audience Q&A
  • Opening address from the Hon Grant Robertson, New Zealand Minister for Sport & Recreation
  • Over 30 “Captains” (table hosts) to be announced, including female athletes, coaches, leaders and male allies supporting gender equity. “Captains” already attending include Football NZ President Johanna Wood, NZ Rugby Chairman Brent Impey, Sport New Zealand Board Member Beatrice Faumuina, plus the CEO’s of Sport NZ, HPSNZ, NZOC and Paralympics NZ.

Click here to find out more about the 2020 Captains Lunch and to get your tickets.

16 February 2020: Raelene Castle ONZM (Ngapuhi) and New Zealand Minister for Sport & Recreation, the Hon Grant Robertson, will headline the annual Captains Lunch at Eden Park on Friday 8 May 2020, being staged in partnership between Women in Sport Aotearoa and the Trans – Tasman Business Circle.

They will be supported by more than 30 “Captains” (table hosts), including female athletes, coaches, leaders and male allies supporting gender equity. The first 15 “Captains” are being announced today and feature sports leaders. Athletes and coaches will be added in future, to create a very unique event.

Now in its second year, this annual luncheon celebrates female leadership in sport and business. It is expected to increase from a sell-out 230 attendees in 2019, to over 300 sport and business leaders in 2020. The event is designed to honour those working to create equity of opportunity for women and girls across sport and recreation. It raises funds to support the vital work of Women in Sport Aotearoa.

Raelene Castle ONZM is one of Australasia’s most well-known sports administrators. She joined Rugby Australia as the code’s first female Chief Executive Officer, beginning in the role in January 2018. She was previously the CEO of the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, where she spent four years leading the National Rugby League club after 6 years as CEO of Netball New Zealand. Before beginning her career in sports administration, Raelene was a successful communications and marketing executive in the corporate sector. Born in Wagga Wagga NSW to kiwi parents, Raelene is Ngapuhi. She moved to New Zealand as young child and returned to Australia following her appointment as the Bulldogs CEO.

Raelene Castle ONZM, said: “I’m excited about returning to New Zealand to take part in the Captains Lunch. Women in Sport Aotearoa is doing an amazing job raising awareness of the opportunities that exist for women and girls within in the local sporting system. These opportunities exist the world over. We support and encourage women and girls to step forward and take the opportunities presented to participate, compete and build careers in sport.”

Julie Paterson, Co-Chair of Women in Sport Aotearoa, said: “We could not be more delighted to be bringing Raelene Castle back to New Zealand for the 2020 Captain’s Lunch. Raelene is an outstanding example of female leadership in sport. Listening to stories about her journey will be fascinating and we very much hope they will inspire the new generation of female leadership beginning to emerge.

“The Captain’s Lunch will also mark a very special milestone for us – exactly 2 years to go until we deliver the 8th IWG World Conference, from 5 – 8 May 2022. This Conference is the largest gathering of experts dedicated to gender equity in sport and physical activity, with 1,200 delegates expected.”

Taking place every four years, the IWG World Conference is being designed and staged by Women in Sport Aotearoa, currently global delivery agent for the International Working Group (IWG) on Women & Sport Secretariat and Conference 2018 – 2022. Established in 1994, the IWG is the world’s largest network dedicated to empowering women and girls and advancing sport. The strategic and overall administrative function moves quadrennially and came to Aotearoa New Zealand on 1 October 2018.

New Zealand Minister for Sport & Recreation, the Hon Grant Robertson, will also address the leaders gathered. The Minister is an avid sports fan and champion for ‘women in sport’. At the beginning of his tenure, he immediately stated that positive change for women and girls in sport and active recreation in Aotearoa New Zealand was his number one priority. Since then he has driven and supported change across the sector, launching the ‘Women & Girls in Sport & Active Recreation’ strategy, which includes a $10 million investment over 3 years, and holding the system accountable. 

“Captains” announced today include:

  • Beatrice Faumuina ONZM OLY, Board Member, Sport New Zealand
  • Peter Miskimmin, Chief Executive, Sport New Zealand
  • Michael Scott, Chief Executive, High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ)
  • Kereyn Smith, Chief Executive and Secretary General, the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC)
  • Fiona Allan, Chief Executive and Secretary General, Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ)
  • David White, Chief Executive, New Zealand Cricket (NZC)
  • Andrea Nelson, Chief Executive, ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2021
  • Nick Sautner, Chief Executive, Eden Park
  • Brent Impey, Chairman, New Zealand Rugby (NZR)
  • Michelle Hooper, Tournament Director, Rugby World Cup 2021 (women’s)
  • Johanna Wood, President, New Zealand Football (NZF)
  • Andrew Pragnell, Chief Executive, New Zealand Football (NZF)
  • Jennie Wyllie, Chief Executive, Netball New Zealand
  • Claire Beard, Chief Executive, Triathlon New Zealand
  • Shelley McMeeken, Chief Executive, Halberg Foundation

Click here to “Meet the Captains”.

Click here to find out more about the 2020 Captains Lunch and to get your tickets.

Click here to download media release:

Raelene Castle ONZM and the Hon Grant Robertson to attend Captains Lunch 2020 – FINAL

IWG 2018-2022

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