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Rugby Canada staying mum on choice of World Rugby chairman, at least for now

Rugby Canada is staying mum on its choice of chairman in World Rugby's increasingly messy elections, at least for now. Vice-chairman Agustin Pichot is running against incumbent Bill Beaumont for World Rugby's top position.

Rugby Canada is staying mum on its choice of chairman in World Rugby's increasingly messy elections, at least for now.

Vice-chairman Agustin Pichot is running against incumbent Bill Beaumont for World Rugby's top position. Voting starts April 27 with results to be announced May 12 at the World Rugby Council's annual meeting, to be held by teleconference.

In a statement, Rugby Canada chairman Tim Powers said the Canadian governing body had had "good discussions" with both candidates.

"We have been encouraged that both candidates have spoken to the importance of investing in Tier 2 nations like Canada and encouraging broad spread investment in the sport," Powers added. "Both have also signalled the importance of greater investment in women's rugby which is important to us too. We are hoping these are more than talking points.

"We are trying to avoid getting got up in the politics of this election. Our focus is to make a choice that is best for Canada and the global game. COVID-19 is accelerating the restructuring of global rugby (and) Canada is not immune.

"At some point prior to the vote we will make our community aware of our choice and the rationale for our vote."

Controversy over the Fiji Rugby Union chairman, who has withdrawn his candidacy for the world governing body's powerful executive committee in the aftermath of allegations of discriminatory conduct, has overshadowed the campaign in recent days.

The Fiji Rugby Union is investigating allegations against Ratu Vilikesa Bulewa Francis Kean that were published in Britain's Sunday Times. The Times reported it had heard "graphic recordings" of Kean using violent and homophobic language when in charge of Fiji's prison service.

World Rugby said Tuesday while any allegations "must be validated," it was "in the best interests of the sport" that Kean step down from the World Rugby Council and withdraw his executive committee candidacy. Fiji's seat on the Council will be filled by union CEO John O'Connor.

Beaumont's nomination for re-election was proposed by the French Rugby Federation and seconded by the Fijian union.

Kean's nomination for a place on the executive committee was seconded by the French Rugby Federation, whose head is Bernard Laporte — Beaumont's running partner to become World Rugby vice-chairman.

Beaumont and Pichot ran unopposed for their current positions in 2015.

The 68-year-old Beaumont, who served as vice-chairman from 2007 to 2012, is a former England captain and British and Irish Lion who led England in 1980 to its first Grand Slam for 33 years.

The 45-year-old Pichot, the first Argentine to serve as vice-chairman, is a former Pumas captain.

The elections are decided by the World Rugby Council, which has a total of 50 votes. Some unions, like England, South Africa and New Zealand, have three votes while Canada and the U.S. have one vote apiece.

 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 21, 2020.

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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press