Pacific body question World Rugby's screening process
REACTION: The Pacific Rugby Players Welfare group has made fresh allegations against Fiji’s rugby boss and criticised his bid for a spot on World Rugby’s executive committee.
The Pacific Rugby group has written a strongly worded letter to members of World Rugby’s council further clouding Bill Beaumont’s bid to remain head of the global body.
Fiji Rugby Union chairman Francis Kean, a key supporter of Beaumont’s campaign to be re-elected as chairman, is already under investigation by the world body for alleged homophobia.
But Dan Leo, chief executive of Pacific Rugby Players Welfare, made further claims in a scathing open letter which slammed Kean and his candidacy for the executive committee.
Fiji seconded former England captain Beaumont’s nomination as chairman, which is shaping as a close contest with Argentina’s Agustin Pichot.
“If the values of World Rugby really are integrity, respect, solidarity, passion and discipline, all of this – and the claim to have been building character since 1823 – will be utterly debased if Kean is elected to the Exco,” Leo wrote.
“You may have thought as Pacific Islanders, we would fall in line in support of Kean. But it is extraordinary to anyone involved in the game in the Pacific that Kean is even on the ballot,” added the former Samoa captain.
Click here to download a copy of the letter sent to the World Rugby Council.
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Kean, a brother-in-law of Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, was jailed for manslaughter in 2007 and has been accused of homophobia based on an alleged recording of offensive remarks made in his role as head of Fiji’s prison service.
In his hard-hitting letter, Leo said Kean travels on a diplomatic passport which carries different names to those on the passport he held when convicted.
He also refers to a suicide over a rejected rugby academy, and an arson attack on the studio of a journalist who was critical of events surrounding Fiji’s 2006 coup, led by Bainimarama with Kean in a senior military role.
*Also read: Beaumont’s ally faces homophobic allegations
“Why does World Rugby have some of the most elaborate and exhaustive eligibility checks for those who play the game but apparently no checks for someone wanting to run the game,” Leo wrote.
Pacific Rugby Players Welfare is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that supports professional and semi-professional players of Pacific island heritage in Britain and Europe.
Beaumont has promised that, if re-elected, he will undertake a full governance review, including a ‘fit and proper persons’ test.
The election, by electronic ballot, is due on April 26 with the result set to be announced at a World Rugby council meeting on May 12.
No immediate comment was available from the Fiji rugby union.