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Sat Apr 19 20:07:49 SAST 2014

Collar bomb father named Australian rugby chief

Sapa-AFP | 09 January, 2013 10:460 Comments
ARU CEO Announcement
New CEO of the Australian Rugby Union Bill Pulver speaks to the media during a press conference at ARU headquarters on January 9, 2013 in Sydney, Australia
Image by: Joosep Martinson / Getty Images

The father of an Australian schoolgirl at the centre of a sensational collar bomb extortion hoax was on Wednesday appointed the nation’s new rugby union chief.

Bill Pulver, the head of linguistics technology company Appen Butler Hill, was named John O’Neill’s successor at the helm of the Australian Rugby Union ahead of a big year for the sport, with the upcoming British and Irish Lions tour.

O’Neill resigned in October after 14 years in the role.

ARU chairman Michael Hawker said Pulver’s experience in marketing that included sports and entertainment sponsorship, as well as a devotion to rugby, made him the ideal candidate.

“We wanted someone with proven commercial success at CEO level, with international business experience and a love of rugby,’ said Hawker.

“The board also set priorities around good communication skills and an understanding of the world of sports marketing and media. Bill has all those attributes.” 

Pulver, 53, shot to fame in 2011 when a masked intruder broke into his luxury Sydney home and strapped a device around the neck of his daughter Madeleine, then 18, with a note attached claiming it was a bomb.

The teenager endured a horrifying 10-hour ordeal with police experts working into the night to remove the device, only later establishing it was an elaborate hoax.

Pulver said he felt “privileged and excited” to take the job.

“For 20 years I have been a chief executive in a diverse range of industries and now I have the opportunity to focus my efforts on this great game, the game I love.” 

He said 2013 would be a momentous year, with 14 Test matches scheduled for the Wallabies including the British and Irish Lions tour, but noted there were also challenges ahead.

“In the short term the challenge for our team in the ARU headquarters is to work with all the game’s stakeholders to ensure rugby in Australia powers forward as a unified and energised force,” he said.

Pulver takes charge following an uninspiring season by the Wallabies, hamstrung by a litany of injuries to key players. It saw them slump from second to third place on the world rankings, piling pressure on coach Robbie Deans.

Australia’s five sides in the Super 15 tournament with South Africa and New Zealand fared little better, with no team making it to the finals.

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