Collar bomb girl's father lands top Aussie job
Bill Pulver, whose daughter was the victim of an extortion hoax, is the new A.R.U. chief executive
The father of an Australian schoolgirl at the centre of a sensational collar bomb extortion hoax was appointed the nation's new rugby union chief yesterday.
Bill Pulver, the head of the linguistics technology company Appen Butler Hill, was named John O'Neill's successor as chief executive of the Australian Rugby Union at the start 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.
The ARU chairman, Michael Hawker, said Pulver's experience in marketing, which included sports and entertainment sponsorship, as well as his 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," Hawker said.
"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, but 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," Pulver said.
He takes charge after an uninspiring season by the Wallabies, who slumped from second to third place in the world rankings.