Agustin Pichot has announced on Sunday that he will run against incumbent Bill Beaumont to become the new chairman of World Rugby.
Pichot – who won 71 caps for the Pumas and has served as a World Rugby vice-chairman for the last four years – promised radical change in rugby if he was to be elected.
‘It is a critical time and a critical election,’ he said in a statement. ‘The current crisis is an opportunity for the global realignment of our game. We cannot miss it.
‘It is time to align our global calendar and our strategic intent to attract the sustainable investment we need, or risk falling back to individual handouts or grants in the absence of a long-term vision for a global game.’
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Mail, Pichot said he wanted to shake up the ‘old boys club’ that runs World Rugby, promising a more modernised governance.
If he is elected, Pichot would be the first chairman outside of Europe’s Six Nations and his candidature is therefore likely to appeal to unions in the Southern Hemisphere and outside of rugby’s traditional heartlands.
The 45-year-old was also the driving force behind the concept of a Nations Championship – which would have allowed other countries to gain their share of rugby’s riches. He has been a stern critic of ‘project players’ – the idea of players from the Pacific Nations in particular playing Test rugby for other countries.
‘This is a time to re-set the structure of our sport and build a game with a global appeal, because the shortfall of Covid-19 will be big,’ he told Daily Mail. ‘We don’t want nations going bankrupt. It’s about protection for everyone, not just for a few.
‘The stakeholders need to come together to form the best model. Everyone needs an equal voice so what is the best way forward,’ he added on the concept of a global calendar.
‘Soccer has done it very well. By preserving the club and international game. Although Lionel Messi earns 20 times the money for Barcelona, he still plays for Argentina in every single championship because it is meaningful.’
Beaumont had already announced his intention to seek another four-year term and his re-election was expected to be a mere formality, with France Rugby president Bernard Laporte likely to serve as his deputy.
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