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Rugby under more scrutiny than ever before says World Rugby chief

SPOTLIGHT: World Rugby chief Bill Beaumont said Friday the sport’s “high profile” means it is coming under more scrutiny than ever before, with a series of scandals rocking Europe’s elite teams.

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The Six Nations kicks off on Saturday with several of the participating nations’ reputations having taken a battering in recent months.

The Welsh Rugby Union has been accused of a “toxic culture” of misogyny and homophobia, while racism reared its head in Italy when a teammate gave Treviso prop Cherif Traore, who is black, a rotten banana as a Christmas present.

Officials in England, Scotland, and France have also come under fire for issues that included player welfare and corruption.

Beaumont, who is in Tokyo with World Rugby CEO Alan Gilpin, acknowledged there had been “quite a few issues” surrounding the sport.

“I just think that the challenges that we have to face as a sport, we are far more of a high-profile sport than we ever have been,” he told reporters.

“I think the people concerned within those unions have taken action. It’s not for me to comment on those actions that individual unions have taken.”

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Beaumont said “hopefully we’ll be talking about what’s happening on the pitch rather than what’s happened off the pitch” when the Six Nations begins.

Beaumont was visiting Japan for the first time since it hosted the Rugby World Cup in 2019.

He called the tournament, which took place just months before the coronavirus pandemic hit, “probably the most successful” in history.

France, Australia and the United States have been confirmed to host the next three tournaments but Beaumont encouraged Japan to bid again in the future.

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“Whilst World Rugby have committed to France this year, Australia, USA, then obviously we will then be talking in the future to other countries,” he said.

“There is no reason at all why Japan can’t feel confident that they can host another Rugby World Cup.”

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