"World rugby not fair”, says Pichot
A man who wants to become next Chairman of World Rugby says the global game is not fair at the moment, and that’s what he will try and fix if he is elected.
Agustín Pichot, former Argentina halfback is standing in next month’s election to become World Rugby chairman, and he spoke to the Samoa Observer about his vision for the sport from Buenos Aires.
Pichot noted that Samoa has not made a Rugby World Cup quarterfinal since the game turned professional in 1995.
“You know that there’s something there, the problem is they don’t have the same chances,” he said.
“It’s not fair, and that’s my manifesto – world rugby is not fair at the moment.”
The 45-year-old hopes to become the first chairman of World Rugby to come from outside of Europe’s Six Nations, and then bring more equality into the sport.
Part of his plan includes more targeted high-performance investment for emerging nations like Samoa, so that their international players can come together for longer periods every year.
Between the last two Rugby World Cups, the Manu Samoa played no more than seven tests in a year.
“When I used to play for Argentina it happened the same, you only met a couple of times a year, it’s very difficult to get a good rugby team [out of that], especially to play against the big powers,” Pichot said.
“But when you are together and you assemble together and you spend time together with the best players, Samoa has amazing talent.”
“The problem is how do you optimise the talent with a proper global calendar.”
Before joining New Zealand, Australia and South Africa in the annual Rugby Championship in 2012, Argentina played about eight test matches per year.
Since then Los Pumas have played between 12 and 15 matches per year, and against stronger opposition more regularly.
Pichot wants to create a similar pathway for all teams, so that they can arrive at a Rugby World Cup in a position to succeed having spent more than just a month together before the tournament.
That’s why he came up with the Nations Championship concept, a global competition structure that was canned last year.
“I truly believe in this, and I will do everything I can to have a proper international calendar,” he said.
Pichot thinks his idea fell down due to mistrust from the major unions, especially those in the Northern Hemisphere, who saw the competition as a takeover attempt by World Rugby and the emerging nations, and didn’t want to lose control.
Pichot’s election rival, incumbent World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont has also signalled his support for an overarching global competition structure, and the Argentine thinks people might be more open to the vision now.
“And I know that SANZAAR is very open to the discussion of opening the Rugby Championship,” he said.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has certainly forced stakeholders to sit back and take stock of the game, with essentially all rugby worldwide halted for public health reasons.
“Now is the time to reshape the game, I think it’s a great opportunity,” Pichot said.
“You make Samoa stronger, then you have an equal global product that everyone can relate to.”