Rugby Australia chairman Cameron Clyne is adamant outgoing chief executive Bill Pulver “delivered” during his turbulent five-year reign.
Four months after Pulver promised to step down amid unprecedented disillusionment among Australian fans, former Netball New Zealand and Canterbury NRL chief Raelene Castle was named as his successor.
But while Pulver will forever be remembered as Australian rugby’s boss who signed off on the demise of axed Super Rugby franchise the Western Force, Clyne insists the 58-year-old’s legacy should be a glowing one.
“There’s many, many positives that Bill leaves in the game,” Clyne said.
“It was a challenging year but one of the reasons we went through governance reform was to have an independent governing structure that could make tough decisions.
“But if you look back at it, we were in a World Cup final just two years ago, our world ranking has generally stuck somewhere between two, three and four over the period of Bill’s tenure.
“He’s launched the NRC, which is a platform that’s building and had its most successful year this year – and bear in mind its counterpart competitions in New Zealand and South Africa have been going for a century.”
Clyne also commended Pulver for his role in working with the AOC to ensure rugby returned as an Olympic sport after an 82-year absence, paving the way for the women’s sevens team to land gold in Rio de Janeiro.
“So when you strip a lot of that back – there’s obviously been a focus on recent times – but he’s really delivered,” Clyne said.
“When you look at reality over the last 15 years, we’re acutely aware we haven’t seen a Bledisloe Cup in that time.
“But if you look at Bill’s record in that time, his win-loss ratio has been comparable with most of the last 15 years.
“So I think he leaves a very positive legacy, but also now provides a platform for Raelene to build on going into the future.”