World Rugby: WRU backs Bill Beaumont for chairman role

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont
Former England captain Bill Beaumont won 34 caps

Welsh Rugby Union chairman Gareth Davies has revealed the governing body has supported Sir Bill Beaumont to be re-elected as World Rugby chairman.

Beaumont is standing for re-election against World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot.

Voting opened this week, with an official announcement on 12 May.

"They're both very strong candidates but the general feeling was that Bill should be the next leader," said Davies.

"I would like to formally confirm the WRU board's conclusion to support Bill in his bid to be re-elected for a further term."

The WRU has three votes out of the 51 cast, with all going to Beaumont. Each of the national bodies that make up the Six Nations have three votes to use in the election.

Rugby Europe has also pledged its support for Beaumont, but former Argentina scrum-half Pichot is being championed by the southern hemisphere Sanzaar countries (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina), and has also positioned himself as a campaigner for emerging nations as he looks to shake up rugby's establishment.

Beaumont's campaign has also been disrupted by the controversy that has hit Fiji rugby, who had pledged their support, with the Fijian Rugby Union (FRU) chairman Francis Kean having stood down as World Rugby council candidate after accusations of homophobia and misconduct.

World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot speaks at a news conference
Agustin Pichot won 71 caps for Argentina before retiring in 2009

Davies said the decision was made after consulting the Professional Rugby Board (PRB) and the WRU executive.

"We have spoken to both candidates and assessed their manifesto commitments in turn," said Davies.

"We have digested the dynamic drive for change presented by Agustin and understood the commitment to progress, but also stability and the steady hand provided by Bill.

"Some members of our board expressed direct support for Bill and others acceded to take their steer from those of us who are closest to the issues at play.

"There were members of both our executive board and the PRB who expressed a preference for Agustin and this was by no means a one-horse race in the board's eyes and it was not a unanimous decision.

Gareth Davies is a former Wales captain who played 21 times for his country between 1978 and 1985
Gareth Davies is a former Wales captain who played 21 times for his country between 1978 and 1985

"Our final collective decision was reached based on evidence provided, due diligence and research of each candidate."

Davies is himself set to be re-elected to World Rugby's executive committee.

The former Wales captain was one of eight nominations for seven positions, but with Fiji's Kean out of the running Davies is among seven candidates in line to be elected unopposed on 12 May.

"What both parties have offered as part of their manifestos is a total revamp of the governance of World Rugby and whoever wins has to get on with that," said Davies.

"It's more than just Gus or Bill, the executive committee of World Rugby has to get its spikes on, every nation has to get its act in order.

"To point at one individual they see as succeeding or failing is wrong, it's the whole game now needs to get together."

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