Samoa's backing of Beaumont crucial in tight World Rugby election
The next Chairman of World Rugby is set to be announced on Sunday morning, ten days earlier than expected after a majority was reached in the election’s first round of voting.
Either the incumbent candidate Sir Bill Beaumont or his challenger Agustín Pichot obtained over 50 per cent of the 51 votes on the World Rugby Council when voting opened last Sunday and closed on Friday.
The Telegraph’s Daniel Schofield and Mick Cleary reported that with a clear result being reached after the first round, both candidates assented to bring the announcement date forward.
Their piece also said both sides were confident in securing the backing of Rugby Africa, the potential swing vote.
Beaumont is widely believed to have taken all 18 votes from the Six Nations unions (three each from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France and Italy), while those in the Rugby Championship (three votes each from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina) are firmly behind Pichot.
The former Argentina halfback made up that six-vote shortfall with the support of Tier 2 unions Georgia, Romania, the U.S.A. and Uruguay (one vote each), along with the backing of the confederations for largely developing rugby regions South America, Asia and Oceania (two votes each).
Perhaps crucially though he couldn’t acquire blanket support from the smaller unions with a say on the Council, with Canada publicly declaring their one vote for the stability Beaumont and Samoa and Fiji reportedly doing the same with their single votes for the promise of a review into international eligibility laws.
Beaumont also acquired two votes from Rugby Europe, who according to the German Rugby Union gave their backing to the incumbent candidate without any consultation or debate with their members.
Rugby Americas North reportedly split their two votes between the pair, so it would appear Sir Bill Beaumont gained 24 votes to Agustín Pichot’s 23, not counting the four votes available to the Japan Rugby Union and Rugby Africa.
On Friday Pichot tweeted his thanks to Beaumont for a positive campaign fought with integrity between two sides who love rugby and want the best possible future for it.
He also had a message for the fans, who have taken a keen interest in the election with no on-field action to follow:
“The fact you have all been so involved in this debate over our future, means the sport can never return to its old ways, you are all now a key part of our sport’s future. Whatever the result, this shift means we have already won.”