Having endured a living nightmare, Bill Pulver – the father of hoax collar bomb victim Madeleine – says his appointment as chief executive of the Australian Rugby Union is a dream come true.
Pulver declared himself the “luckiest man alive” after being unveiled as the code’s new boss on Wednesday.
“I’m 53-years-old and I think I have finally discovered what I think I want to do with my life,” he said.
“For the past 20 years I have been a CEO working in a diverse range of industries and now I feel very privileged to be taking on the role of CEO of the game I love.
“I feel today like I am the luckiest man alive … I’m now a leading administrator of the game they play in heaven. I’m simply delighted to have the opportunity to play a role.
“In a way I feel partly that it is a civic duty. My love of rugby is so deep that I’m just so excited about playing a role in allowing the game to develop.
“It is a dream of mine come true.”
The multi-million dollar businessman only touched on the horrors his family endured after a balaclava-clad Paul Douglas Peters broke into his family’s Mosman home in August 2011 and placed what he claimed was a collar bomb around the neck of Madeleine.
In November Peters was sentenced to at least 10 years jail for the crime.
The case created headlines worldwide but Pulver said he was not deterred from the profile and scrutiny which will come in his new role – one of the most high profile and demanding in Australian sport.
“My family are all rugby tragics,” he said.
“You will regularly see the entire Pulver family out watching the rugby … so they are probably at home watching this licking their lips with excitement.
“Rugby is a subject we will all be happy to talk about.”
ARU chairman Michael Hawker, a former schoolmate and teammate of Pulver’s at the exclusive Sydney private school Shore, welcomed the appointment.
“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. He has enjoyed success in large and small businesses, through growth cycles and tough times.”
Pulver moved quickly to allay any doubts over the future of embattled Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.
“To be absolutely clear … Robbie will be coaching the Wallabies right through 2013,” he said.
He also moved to put the Quade Cooper saga, highlighted by claims of a “toxic environment” under Deans, behind the ARU.
Pulver said he would not be discussing the issue with the Wallabies playing group in a planned meeting with them in his first month in charge.
Pulver will officially take over from current ARU CEO John O’Neill on February 1.