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Report: Samoa to vote Sir Bill Beaumont for World Rugby chair

Samoa has reportedly pledged its vote in Sunday’s election for the next chair of World Rugby to incumbent candidate Sir Bill Beaumont.

The New Zealand Herald’s Liam Napier reported on Wednesday that Samoa Rugby Union chairman Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi promised Beaumont his vote at last year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Napier reports that the commitment came in exchange for Beaumont’s own promise to review World Rugby’s Regulation 8, which governs the sport’s international eligibility laws.

In his manifesto for re-election, the former England captain said he would review Regulation 8 “to see how we can support the longevity of players’ international careers.”

Beaumont expanded on his plans in an interview with the Daily Mail, proposing a change that benefits Pacific Island 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.

Former Manu Samoa midfielder and co-founder of Pacific Rugby Players Seilala Mapusua said World Rugby had already committed to investigate Regulation 8 well before the election campaign.

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

Mapusua is backing Beaumont’s opponent Agustín Pichot in the election, who would become the first chair of World Rugby from outside of the game’s traditional European powers.

Pichot is calling for a more democratic governance structure for the global body, to do away with the weighted World Rugby Council voting system and ensure emerging rugby nations like Samoa get a vote that has equal value with that of England or New Zealand.

According to Liam Napier’s reporting, Samoa would be perhaps the only tier-two nation to support Beaumont’s election bid, with the others aligning with the southern hemisphere Sanzaar unions and Pichot.

Fiji’s man on the Council Francis Kean was also expected to be backing Beaumont, however he stepped down following major public scrutiny this week over his manslaughter conviction and other unrelated allegations.

Napier said Sanzaar hope the Fijian Rugby Union will now get in behind Pichot with their vote.

The Samoa Observer has reached out to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi for comment.

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