Bill Pulver to ride off into the sunset

Dec 14, 2017 - 1:53 AM Done with sports administration, Bill Pulver craves a year-long sabbatical when his "special" five-year reign as Rugby Australia boss draws to a close next month.

"I've got my flip flops, my board shorts, my hat and I'm ready to go," Pulver told AAP when asked what's next.

"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."

There'll be a little travel, but mostly quality time with his wife Belinda, four 20-something children Harry, Maddy, Angus and Archie and many hours on Sydney's fairways.

"I've got a golf handicap that's blown out a lot in the last five years (from 11 to 18) so I blame rugby for that and I'm furious about that and I'm going to fix it," Pulver said wryly.

Just as many in the game blame Pulver for Australia's Super Rugby black eye and the sad axing of the Western Force in 2017.

But just as RA chairman Cameron Clyne insists Pulver's legacy should be a positive one, the outoing chief executive prefers to remember the good times.

"I feel incredibly privileged to have been a part of this game. It's an extraordinary game, it's a game that's full of wonderful people and I've loved every minute of it," he said.

"I made a ton of mistakes and I won't bother summarising them for you because you don't have time for it.

"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 at the Rio Olympics was something I'll never forget in my entire life.

"And 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."

After a huge spike in children playing rugby, Pulver says it's vital RA doesn't drop the ball.

"The long-term challenges are there for all sports because less young kids are playing team sports and young adults, millennials as we call them, don't consume sport in the same volume as their previous generation," he said.

"So these are challenges across all sports in countries.

"Not withstanding that, it still has a really powerful place in our society and watching live sport is about the only thing you can guarantee will get an audience these days at any particular time.

"So, ultimately, the biggest challenge is capturing the hearts and minds of young boys and girls who play the game and that's where our focus should be."

Pulver endorses wholeheartedly the appointment of former Canterbury NRL and Netball New Zealand chief Raelene Castle as his successor.

"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 the women's game is so central to the growth of the game and I think she's going to do a terrific job."

Pulver says the timing of the handover is perfect.

"I'm actually officially still a part of Rugby Australia until the end of January. Half of that I'm going to be on holidays, which is exactly what she wants," he said.

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

"But I will come back towards the end of January and I will do whatever she requires.

"And I will 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."

Pulver "probably won't be a sports administrator again".

"I mean, I've done the only job I would ever want in sport, the one I'm doing," he said.

"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 role in 2019 but it won't be in sport.

"It's actually quite exciting not knowing what the next endeavour is going to be."

Source: AAP

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