Old hand vs young hotshot; World Rugby Chairman role

World Rugby
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There is now a contest for the World Rugby Chairman role, with Agustín Pichot entering the ring. It means that incumbent Chair Bill Beaumont must ‘see off the young hotshot’ if he wishes to retain command of the governing body.

The positions of Chairman and Vice-Chairman will be determined at the annual meeting of the Executive Council on May 12, 2020. The pair were formerly a powerful duo and Beaumont (68) was assumed to be running uncontested. But, with Pichot (45) opting to oppose his Chairman – believing youth will be an attractive option to take the majority of the 50 votes.

This positions Beaumont as the ‘old hand’ who must use all his years of building relationships across the globe, to retain his World Rugby Chairman role.

That creates the unique proposition of one candidate running on the platform of change to meet the modern needs of the game, and the old guard not wanting to be seen as stuck in the amateur ear. Not wanting to appear so, will Sir Bill Beaumont remodel himself, to appeal to both the young and, the establishment?

Old hand vs young hotshot; World Rugby Chairman role

Even if the two were once colleagues, many see the challenge from the former Los Pumas player as a ‘once in a generation opportunity’. His term as Vice Chairman appears to have given him the profile that can be a conduit for change. His attempt to redirect World Rugby from an organization that is still seen as mired in autocratic views, to one based on power-sharing across all parties may be idealistic but, certainly many are hopeful that it might find traction.

In recent days, each has begun the public appearance and media posturing, that sees their image plastered across the globe. Both are basing much of their campaigns on social media, with the view that nations who are not fully committed, might see the candidates and hear their policies and values.

Pichot has covered many regions, undertaking interviews and endorsing viewpoints and opinion pieces from media who are looking for change. Beaumont is standing on his long service to the game, his standing as well as making a pledge to hold a review of the organization, if he is

The two candidates will have already put in place their internal bidding for votes. The lobbying for votes in an entity to its own (only matched by FIFA or the IOC for the political maneuvering required). Meetings with delegates and with influential stakeholders made that are mindful of the ideals which both men are standing on. Promises made, in exchange for a vote or two – and that breakdown of the voting system is one worth examining on its own.

How the World Rugby Chairman voting system work

Using an antiquated voting system, a total of 50 votes is shared in a Tiered-system that benefits the bigger unions and old alliances. That is best epitomized in Beaumont’s running partner for Vice Chairman, Bernard Laporte of France.

Knowing that he already holds a good number of votes, the reported swing of votes is supported by votes already published in the electoral process. Nominated and proposed by the Fédération Française de Rugby, BillBeaumont was seconded by the Fiji Rugby Union. Agustín Pichot was nominated and proposed by Unión Argentina de Rugby and seconded by Rugby Australia and Sudamérica Rugby [region].

The breakdown of the voting system shows the World Rugby council is composed of 33 delegates, with a total of 50 votes. These are allocated as follows:

  • (30 votes) Ten unions have three votes, with two delegates each; Arg, Aus, Eng, Fra, Ire, Ita, NZl, Sco, SA, and Wal.
  • (2) Japan holds two votes and one delegate
  • (7) Six unions each have one vote and one delegate; Can, Geo, Fij, Sam, Rom, USA, and Ura
  • (12) The six regional associations representing Europe, South America, Americas North, Africa, Asia, and Oceania each have two votes and one delegate.

Out of this group, either the reigning Chairman or Vice Chairman will hope to raise enough support to be in a position to drive the governing body for the next four years. As World Rugby chairman, the role is one where a manifesto can be put forward – whether a fresh perspective can (a) remove the old hand, and (b) instigate any planned change without the support of the majority, will only be known after May 12.

Whoever wins, the run up to the election will make for some good conversations. To offer your feedback on this subject, leave a comment below or on our Facebook page or on our Twitter page.


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