Pulver prepares to leave rugby

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Bill Pulver isn’t sure what the next year will hold for him, but says he won’t be back in sports administration when he looks for his next opportunity.

Pulver’s tenure as Rugby Australia CEO will officially end next month, with Raelene Castle already appointed as his successor, and the chief said he was looking forward to some time off.

“I'm really prepared (to finish). I'm ready. I've got my flip flops my board shorts, my hat and I'm ready to go,” he said.

 "I'm going to take a year off. I'm 58 years old, I've been a CEO in a variety of businesses for 30 years and I've got a wonderful family and I'm looking forward to smelling the roses for a little while.”

When his year’s sabbatical wraps up, he’s not sure what the future will hold, but one thing is for sure - he won’t be winding down his days on a sporting board.

“I probably won't be a sports administrator again,” he said.

“The only job I would ever want in sport is the one I'm doing.

“I'm not someone who wants to graduate to a board of directors.

“I like running things, I like working directly with people, so I will look for another CEO in 2019 but it won't be in sport.”

When Pulver returns from Christmas holidays, he will be keeping his distance as his finals days wrap up, letting Castle take the reins immediately.

The incoming chief has already become a regular fixture in the Rugby AU offices, as she begins to take in the landscape of her new position.

Pulver said though he would always be there to help Castle, he wouldn't be overbearing in the transition.

"I think Raelene is a great choice as CEO. She is a professional administrator," he said.

"It's wonderful to have a woman in the role. That's not my view why she got the job but it's terrific because, as you've heard today, the women's game is so central to the growth of the game and I think she's going to do a terrific job.

“The new CEO, the worst thing for them is to have the old CEO hanging around. 

“I will come back towards the end of January and do whatever she requires and I'll do whatever she requires at any point in the future.

“I feel great loyalty to this game. I leave this game loving the game as much as I did when I joined. I'm here to help.”

Pulver’s CEO stint has been marked by some historic highs, including the introduction of the NRC and the growth of women’s Sevens, in particular - as well as some dark ebbs, culminating in the Super Rugby saga that dragged out in 2017.

The outgoing rugby boss admitted he had made mistakes, but ultimately felt a great debt to the people he managed and

“Oh, look, I made a ton of mistakes and I won't bother summarising them for you because you don't have time for it,” he said.

"But, look, my great memories are of all the wonderful people I've worked with. There's been some really special times.

"Australia's run in the men's Rugby World Cup in 2015 was just a phenomenal ride.

“Watching our women win a gold medal in Rio at the Olympics was something I'll never forget in my entire life.

"Just seeing a lot of strategies we're putting in place; we're trying to get more young boys and girls to play the game.

"So a lot of fabulous memories and, like I say, I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to work with a team of people we have at Rugby Australia.

Rugby Australia chairman Cameron Clyne said on Tuesday Pulver’s would be a legacy would be a positive one.