The Australian Rugby Union, the sport's domestic governing body, has today appointed Bill Pulver as its new chief executive, effective February 1.
Pulver replaces John O'Neill, who retired last October, a year earlier than scheduled, so he could focus on his other business interests.
Pulver has served as an executive of companies in Australia, Japan, the UK and USA, where he spent six years as chief executive of Nasdaq-listed market research company NetRatings. He is presently chief executive of Appen Butler Hill, a linguistics technology company, but will step down at the end of the month.
He said: "I have for the last 20 years been a chief executive working in a very diverse range of industries and now I feel incredibly privileged to be able to take those CEO skills and apply them to the game I love."
Pulver takes over as Australia's top rugby union administrator as the sport gears up for its biggest domestic exposure outside of a World Cup year, with the British and Irish Lions scheduled to tour in June and July.
Michael Hawker, chairman of the ARU, said: "The ARU board was looking for a specific skill set and, benchmarking against those criteria, we have found the right man for the job. We wanted someone with proven commercial success at chief executive, with international business experience and a love of rugby.
"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."
O’Neill spent 14 years at the helm of the ARU, initially from 1995 to 2004, and then again from 2007, in between which he was chief executive of Football Federation Australia, the domestic governing body for soccer.
He will remain heavily involved in rugby union, continuing to serve as an ARU delegate to the International Rugby Board, the sport's world governing body, as chairman of the IRB Regulations Committee and as a board member of Rugby World Cup Ltd through to 2016.