The South gutted for Gus
REACTION: Former England captain Bill Beaumont was re-elected as World Rugby chairman on Saturday and immediately came under pressure to have the “courage” to make the big decisions.
Beaumont beat former Argentina skipper Agustin Pichot to the top job, the governing body announced.
Beaumont, 68, who campaigned on the promise of opening up the sport, claimed 28 of the 51 votes to overcome the 45-year-old Pichot who planned to modernise the body and used the hashtag #GlobalGame on social media.
Once the round of congratulations had ended, New Zealand Rugby, who had backed Pichot, were quick to remind Beaumont of his global responsibilities.
“We are of course disappointed for Agustin Pichot as he had our vote, and it is important to us that whoever won the election will heed the calls for change to the game.,” said New Zealand Rugby chief Brent Impey.
“Gus ran a strong campaign and gave his best effort in a highly principled manner and that is all that can be asked, so we are proud of him.
“There is still a level of governance reform that is overdue, and it would be good to see the courage taken to make the decisions needed to ensure the continued sustainability and success of rugby globally – not just for a limited number of Unions and regions.”
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Sharing New Zealand’s sentiments were their Trans-Tasman brothers Australia.
Rugby Australia Chairman, Paul McLean said: “Rugby Australia congratulates Bill Beaumont on his re-election and we have assured him again that he and World Rugby have our one hundred percent support.
“We have been clear with Bill over our frustrations regarding the collapse of the World Nations Championship, and the reasons for the way we voted but we are absolutely committed to working with Bill and World Rugby to unlock greater opportunities to drive growth in the game globally.
“We are disappointed for Gus Pichot, who had a strong and progressive vision for the game with an emphasis on global alignment and governance reform.
“With Rugby facing its greatest test in the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential for the game to act in a unified way to deliver a sustainable future that ensures that all nations have the opportunity to grow and contribute to the ongoing success of the sport.”
Beaumont said he was honoured to resume his role at the top of World Rugby.
“I would like to thank my union and region colleagues, members of the global rugby family and, of course, my family for their full support,” said Beaumont in a statement released by World Rugby.
The announcement of the results was brought forward from the original date of May 12 due to the smoothness of the process.
Beaumont, who will have another four-year tenure, will be joined by the French Rugby Federation’s chief Bernard Laporte as his vice-chairman.
“Congratulations to my friend Sir Bill Beaumont on his re-election. I would also like to express my best wishes to Agustin Pichot, a legend of Argentinian rugby and a great rugby leader,” said Laporte, who is set to oversee France hosting the 2023 World Cup.
“I also want to thank all unions who have expressed their opinion in this important ballot, giving a clear mandate for the governance which Bill and I will undertake on their behalf,” he added.
The election process had been overshadowed by the resignation of Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) chairman Francis Kean from the world body’s council after accusations of “rampant homophobia”.
Beaumont’s bid was seconded by the Pacific Island union but World Rugby stressed the former lock’s nomination came from the FRU, rather than from Kean.
Meanwhile, Pichot, who retired from the sport 11 years ago and had been World Rugby vice-chairman since 2016, hinted at trying for the main position again in the future.
“Not this time, thanks to all for the support, from the bottom of my heart. #globalgame,” Pichot posted on Twitter on Saturday.
Felicitaciones Bill/Congratulations Bill!!!
No se dio. Gracias a todos!!!! De corazon / Not this time, thanks to all fo the support , from the bottom of my heart. #globalgame
— Agustín Pichot (@AP9_) May 2, 2020