The Pacific Rugby Players Welfare (PRPW) has released a report alleging bribery and corruption in the election of Bill Beaumont and Bernard Laporte as World Rugby chairman and vice-chairman, respectively.
PRPW is an independent non-profit players’ organisation headed by former Samoan international Dan Leo.
The Veilomani Report – so named after the Fijian term for loving one another – cites French newspaper L’Equipe in reporting that ‘negotiations intended to ensure Fiji’s vote for the Beaumont-Laporte ticket [when logic would suggest Fiji’s vote went to their rival Agustin Pichot, the champion of smaller nations], sees the FFR [French Rugby Federation] having committed, according to our information, to host a match against Fiji each year as well as national team and U20 camps [at the Marcoussis National Centre of Rugby, with the French U20s]’.
If true, the Veilomani report submits that this agreement may amount to bribery and that the election itself may therefore have been ‘deliberately manipulated’.
The report posits that this misconduct has the potential to bring the game of rugby into disrepute as well as ‘fundamentally undermine World Rugby’s integrity’. It recommends as a matter of utmost priority the appointment of a disciplinary officer to investigate the allegations, arguing that it would be in the ‘overall interests of the game to do so’.
The report goes on to condemn World Rugby’s inaction ‘and complicity’ in the state capture of the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU). It alleges that there is no free and independent process for the election of FRU officials in contravention of World Rugby by-law 6(e) amid state interference.
The head of the FRU, Francis Kean, is the brother-in-law of Fiji’s president. According to the report, World Rugby has ‘tacitly if not explicitly … facilitated the state of affairs in Fiji’.
The 57-page report also strikes a vicious blow against what it terms ‘colonial entitlement’ in the way in which the rugby world treats Pacific nations and Pacific players. It cites among its concerns an ‘unfair and inequitable programme of international matches’ and ‘world rugby’s disciplinary and judicial process’.
The Veilomani Report surmises that ‘when compared with other international sports federations, World Rugby’s governance is glaringly deficient’.
The report will come as a hammer blow to Beaumont, Laporte and World Rugby in general as it continues to await the outcome of an independent-led review of its governance.
– Andre-Pierre Cronje
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