Pichot vs Beaumont: What they can offer Samoa

Agustín Pichot and the incumbent Sir Bill Beaumont have both presented the ideas underpinning their respective campaigns to become World Rugby chairman for the next four years.

Samoa Rugby Union chair Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi will cast his vote along with the rest of the World Rugby Council on the 10th of May, and both candidates shared their manifestos over the last few days.

Former Argentina halfback Pichot has previously been vocal about greater equality for the global game, and that ethos is at the heart of what he shared in announcing he would contest the election on Sunday.

“It is time to think of a sport where professional and commercial income is becoming a true benefit for all, by empowering Rugby’s growth around the world and by moving on from the time where those benefits were for just a few,” he said in a release.

“It is time to change, to focus our attention, love and dedication to all Unions and federations equally. Starting with the traditional ones who have nurtured our game to what it is today, keeping them strong. But also developing and supporting our emerging nations who are fighting for survival and relevance in their regions; to one day join the great stages of Test Rugby, Sevens and Rugby World Cups, being competitive and strong.

Pichot outlined aspects of his plan in an interview with the Daily Mail, and noted the opportunity for global realignment provided by the COVID-19 crisis.

He wants rugby to eventually restart with a universally-shared calendar for clubs and unions around the world, as well as 12-14 tests per year per nation as part of an annual tournament.

Such a competition would theoretically bear a resemblance to last-year’s Nations Championship concept which fell through, given that was seen to be a pet project of Pichot’s.

The current vice-chairman of World Rugby also wants more democratic governance for the global body, with long-term goals of equal votes for all unions and revenue sharing.

Under the current Council system, the Samoa Rugby Union for example has one vote to three each for the Tier 1 nations.

The current chairman Sir Bill Beaumont released his manifesto on Wednesday, in which he also supported a universally-aligned rugby calendar and global competition structure.

While he didn’t mention any intention to change the democratic set-up of the World Rugby Council, Beaumont’s manifesto proposed an independent review of the body’s governance.

"Our aim is to have a more representative and diverse international federation that better serves the game, not one that is seen to only support the 'old guard'," he said.

Beaumont also promised to review Regulation 8, which governs the international eligibility of players.

Under the current system, former All Blacks like Lima Sopoaga are unable to play for their country of heritage (Samoa), meaning they can no longer play test matches.

But Beaumont has promised a review of those laws, “to see how we can support the longevity of players’ international careers.”

Pichot has historically been against the relaxing of eligibility laws, particularly those that allow players to represent a country after taking up residence there during their career.

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