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Seilala Mapusua demands results

Former Manu Samoa midfielder, Seilala Mapusua, wants whoever comes out on next month’s election for chair of World Rugby to “walk the talk”.

The co-Founder of Pacific Rugby Players is interested to see who gets elected between the two candidates; incumbent Sir Bill Beaumont and Agustín Pichot.

“From my standpoint, and that of Pacific Rugby Players, we just want whoever’s going to be in there to make sure that they’re going to deliver whatever they’re promising,” he said.

“This could be massive for Pacific Rugby, which way the vote sways.”

Two clear voting blocs have emerged ahead of the election on May 12th, with the European 6 Nations unions apparently backing Beaumont and the Southern Hemisphere’s  powerhouses supporting Pichot’s bid.

It will therefore be the Tier 2 countries like Samoa that will probably play kingmaker, and both candidates have promised to serve emerging nations and the global game in their manifestos.

Mapusua said World Rugby certainly needs an injection of some sort:

“I think everyone’s kinda crying out for something to change, whether that’s personnel or the way things are done.

“Otherwise the game’s just going to decline.”

He’s prepared to endorse the former Argentina halfback, provided he can follow through on his vision for rugby around the world.

“You’ve got a young, ambitious guy who’s very, very close to the game, recently playing and coming from a Tier 2 nation so understands the struggles of the global game,” Mapusua said.

Pichot is cautious on one issue that would benefit the Pacific Islands; the opening up of international eligibility laws to allow former Tier 1 representatives to play for Tier 2 countries.

By contrast, Beaumont has promised a review of Regulation 8 (which sets out those laws), with the intention of seeing “how we can support the longevity of players’ international careers.”

But Mapusua said that World Rugby had already committed to investigate Regulation 8 well before the election campaign began in earnest:

“It’s pretty easy to see how much of a political move it is with the upcoming vote.”

Beaumont expanded on his plans in an interview with the Daily Mail, proposing a change that benefits players close to retirement looking for “one last hoorah” after a four-year stand-down period.

In some ways that would be a step backwards from the status quo, given players can change their international allegiance after just three years stand-down using the sevens/Olympic loophole.

Mapusua said making it possible for Charles Piutau to play for Tonga and Steven Luatua to play for Samoa is something Pacific Rugby Players have pushed forever.

“New Zealand Rugby came out last year and said they put in a proposal to World Rugby and it got rejected which was 2004 or 2005,” he said.

Both election candidates have also proposed global alignment of the rugby season across the world, as well as an international competition structure.

“By chance through COVID-19 we’ve basically been given the opportunity to just hit the reset button,” Mapusua said.

However Beaumont’s version of an annual global competition would separate Tier 1 nations from everyone else, according to his Twitter account.

By contrast, Pichot’s concept would serve to create an equal pathway for all unions to progress their standing, regardless of where they currently sit.

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