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Daniel Leo praying Samoa vote Pichot

Former Manu Samoa lock and Pacific Rugby Players Welfare boss Daniel Leo is praying Samoa turn their support away from Sir Bill Beaumont ahead of the World Rugby chair election this weekend.

The New Zealand Herald reported Samoa Rugby Union chair Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi had long ago promised his World Rugby Council vote to Beaumont.

“From what I’ve heard, the vote’s already cast,” Leo said.

“But there’s still [until Sunday] I’d like to hope, and actually more than hope, probably pray, that these guys have the guts to chuck a cat amongst the pigeons, because that’s what the game needs.

“Hopefully I’m mistaken and they’re just playing a double bluff.”

Supposedly Beaumont secured Tuilaepa’s backing by promising a review of rugby’s international eligibility laws, however Leo feels there must have been more offered.

“I’ve heard that there’s possibly a promise to expand the Executive Committee from seven to nine seats and that the Pacific will get one of those,” he said

“It’s not good enough. We need our leaders, our administrators to be thinking about the long-term good of the game in our region and our countries, as opposed to just getting positions of power now on those committees.

“The challenge is to our Pacific administrators is to do what’s right, to do what everyone knows is right for the game, for longevity, for the future generations, not what’s right for you and your ego now.”

Leo described the review as “fool’s gold,” noting that it won’t necessarily bring change given two thirds of the Council would have to vote in favour of amending Regulation 8.

“That’s going to come down to the voting of core blocs, and we’ve seen time and time again when this has been voted on, no one who has the power wants to see that change,” he said. 

“If we want to see our situation change, we need to up our votes, increase our influence.”

And that’s exactly what rival candidate Agustín Pichot is promising to look at should he be voted in; reformation of the Council and its governance structure.

“Any Tier 2 country that’s not voting for that has really got to check themselves,” Leo said

“If you don’t have the full three votes you should be getting behind the person that will give you the full three votes.

“If we get the influence that we deserve on the Council, we could push through a review and we could actually get that review passed.”

He said falling for the eligibility offer over focusing on the big issues which affect every Tier 2 nation would be very short-sighted.

“Status quo doesn’t work for the Pacific Islands,” Leo said, noting that the Manu Samoa have fallen from a record high of seventh in the World Rugby rankings in 2013 to a record low of 17th last year.

“The current profit share, the current seats at the table, they’re all stacked up against us. We can’t be voting for that.”

But Leo isn’t totally convinced by Pichot as a candidate either, which is why Pacific Rugby Players Welfare hasn’t come out totally in favour of the former Argentina halfback.

“The fact that he was on the U.S.A. Board when he was World Rugby vice-chairman, from a good governance point of view that’s wrong,” he said.

Leo also has concerns about Pichot being the head of Andrew Forrest’s mining interests in Latin America, seeing a conflict of interest given Forrest is the founder of Global Rapid Rugby.

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