World Rugby update: Voting influence and revised 2020 Test Rugby window

World Rugby update: Voting influence and Test Rugby window

World Rugby has recently had to comment and refute claims of voting influence in the recent re-election of Sir Bill Beaumont, as well as to announce a freshly revised International Test rugby window.

The media release and confirmation of intended scheduled test matches in the Northern and Southern hemisphere is a mix of negative and positive news from the governing body. Yet the stigma over the voting system and the complaints from member unions and player representatives has no end.

This relates to the France 2023 successful campaign to win the hosting rights for the Rugby World Cup, and most recently, the unsuccessful bid by Agustin Pichot against the incumbent Chairman. The actions of a Fijian delegate – who will be stepping down from his post – also shone a light on the lobbying and promises made by unions, at that time.

Voting influence and World Rugby politics

Even after internal examination of the body, which is reinforced in the recently published ASOIF report on sports governance that independently reviewed World Rugby’s governance and ranked World Rugby as a top-performing federation, stakeholders are still voicing concerns.

With the actions of men like Francis Bulewa Keane at the WR elections prompted an open letter to Brett Gosper. Within that, the Pacific Rugby Players Welfare and their CEO Dan Leo voiced concerns regarding voting influence within the international federation’s recent election process, and other governance matters.

It stated ‘We at PRPW call on World Rugby to make wholesale and urgent governance reforms, and to end economic, political and human rights inequalities currently affecting the Pacific Islands.’

The Veilomani Report are the findings and recommendations by PRW to end [what it sees as] ‘glaring deficiencies in World Rugby’s governance’. In reaction, WR assured stakeholders that ‘World Rugby is completely satisfied that the 2020 chairperson election was undertaken in accordance with a robust process with Sir Bill Beaumont elected in a fair and appropriate manner’.

In the past, the murky dealings at the headquarters of the game have seen results and the awarding of tournaments that are shaded by those involved.

The appearance of unethical trading of test matches promises, of financial support by either a nation independantly or by World Rugby itself, is a concern from the outside. While Bill Beaumont laid a promise on the table, that he’d “like to think I’ve got four years to come and make a difference” was a promising intention.

Some, like Pacific Rugby Players Welfare, find it hard to believe.

Stephen Jones of The Times newspaper even went so far as to state that whatever findings are made, ‘the whole process is immoral and has been set up to fail’.

Note: World Rugby only recognizes International Rugby Players as the global representative body for players. Within its structures, players from the Pacific Islands are represented via Pacific Rugby Players.

Revised International Test Rugby window

The World Rugby executive committee has recommended a revised temporary 2020 international calendar with the express objective of optimizing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic for the betterment of the global game at all levels.

One statement that does seem to contradict the intentions of resumed domestic rugby in Europe, WR states ‘the rescheduling of the domestic, European and international calendars will accommodate the ability for the professional clubs to have access to their star southern hemisphere international players for the completion of the postponed and rescheduled 2019/20 seasons’.

Questions are now being asked by rugby observers of whether in the final week of the proposed Test window, whether some clubs would withdraw their contracted players. That might also influence if South African players would be free to travel down to New Zealand; if that country were to host The Rugby Championship from mid-November [tbc].

It seems that, even with good intentions, Bill Beaumont and World Rugby’s hopes of an encompassing Test window, might still not satisfy everyone and every competition.


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