Voting for World Rugby’s next chairman began on Monday as incumbent Bill Beaumont faces competition from Agustin Pichot.
Either Beaumont or Pichot must claim a majority of the 51 votes in order to be elected on a four-year term. Voting closes on Thursday this week, with the results of the election to be announced on 12 May.
Former England lock and captain Beaumont – who retired 12 years before the sport turned professional in 1995 – has campaigned with the promise of opening up the sport.
Meanwhile, Pichot, former Argentina captain and current World Rugby vice-chairman, wants to see the governing body modernised and has been outspoken about his desire to implement a global calendar in rugby.
Pichot was a driving force behind the idea of the Nations Championship – a two-tier Test rugby tournament – before plans were scrapped in 2019.
‘I will start the discussions with the Nations Championship blueprint, but I’m not sure if that will be the outcome,’ Pichot told AFP. ‘It will talk about the emerging nations, more money for the women’s game.’
Beaumont has overseen a $100-million relief package for the game during the coronavirus pandemic.
‘Going forward I’m sure there will be a variant of that,’ he said of the Nations Championship plans.
The elections have, however, been overshadowed by the resignation of Fiji Rugby Union chairperson Francis Kean – who was convicted of manslaughter in 2007 – from the World Rugby Council after accusations of ‘rampant homophobia’. The FRU seconded Beaumont’s bid to retain his place as chairman, but World Rugby stressed this did not come from Kean himself.
Pichot is believed to have strong support from the other tier-two nations while Rugby Europe, who have two votes to cast, said earlier in the day they have supported Beaumont.
Photo: REUTERS/Issei Kato