Collar-bomb father named chief of Australian Rugby Union

SYDNEY (AFP) - The father of an Australian schoolgirl at the centre of a sensational collar-bomb extortion hoax was appointed the nation's new rugby union chief on Wednesday.

Bill Pulver, the head of linguistics technology company Appen Butler Hill, was named John O'Neill's successor at the helm of the Australian Rugby Union ahead of a big year for the sport, with the upcoming British and Irish Lions tour.

O'Neill resigned in October after 14 years in the role.

Pulver, 53, shot to fame in 2011 when a masked intruder broke into his luxury Sydney home and strapped a device around the neck of his daughter Madeleine, then 18, with a note attached claiming it was a bomb.

The teenager endured a horrifying 10-hour ordeal with police experts working into the night to remove the device, only later establishing it was an elaborate hoax.

Pulver, who said he felt "privileged and excited" about the appointment, takes charge following an uninspiring season by the Wallabies, who have been hamstrung by a litany of injuries to key players. It saw them slump from second to third in the world rankings, piling pressure on coach Robbie Deans.

Australia's five sides in the Super 15 tournament with South Africa and New Zealand fared little better, with no team making it to the finals.