Samoa votes to return Sir Bill Beaumont as IRB Chair

Samoa was among 28 members of the International Rugby Board that voted for the return of Sir Bill Beaumont on Saturday as the Chairman of the code's governing body.

The former England captain got 28 to 23 votes to defeat Argentina’s August Pichot to ensure his tenure as the IRB Chairman continued for another four years.

A total of 18 countries as well as six regions participated in the voting for a total of 51 votes, which meant any candidate who collected 26 votes or more was announced the winner.

According to the South African Sports website Sports24, the six Six Nations countries comprising England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France and Italy all had three votes, while the four Saanzar states comprising New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina had three votes. 

Japan had two votes while seven countries comprising Romania, Georgia, Uruguay, USA, Canada, Samoa and Fiji had one vote a piece. 

Altogether this gave the ‘country’ votes a total of 39 and the six regions of Africa, Asia, Europe, North-Central America, South America and Oceania each had two votes, giving the ‘region’ votes a total of 12 for an overall vote of 51.

As expected, the six Six Nations countries all sided with Beaumont, giving him 18 votes. The four southern hemisphere Saanzar countries all gave Argentina's Pichot the nod, giving him 12 votes, reports Sports24.

Sports24 reported that Japan voted for Beaumont with Canada but the USA joined the Pichot camp. The North/Central America two votes were then split one each for the two candidates.

Another act of keeping the peace appears to have taken place in Oceania and the Pacific Islands where both Samoa and Fiji – both hoping to be included in any new Australasian replacement for the Super Rugby tournament – voted for Beaumont, while the two Oceania votes went to Pichot.

Rugby Africa votes went to Beaumont (after South Africa had given their three-vote backing to Pichot), according to Sports24. Romania and Georgia gave Pichot their backing - suggesting they fancied their chances of breaking into an expanded Six Nations better under Pichot than to remain out in the cold under Beaumont.

Predictably, the Europe votes went the way of Beaumont, while of equal certainty, Uruguay and South America voted for their fellow South American, Pichot. That left a 28-23 majority for Beaumont.

The vote by Samoa and Fiji for the former England captain was not lost on Kiwi sports broadcaster Martin Devlin, who slammed the two island nations for not voting for Pichot, and described the return of Beaumont to the code’s governing body as “grim” for the sport.

“So same old same old, status quo preserved, nothing will change. There’s not that much that surprises me. What really doesn’t surprise is who voted for him,” he said on his Devlin Radio Show on New Zealand radio station NewsTalkZB on Sunday.

“Shame on you Fiji and Samoa. Can you believe this? What benefit do you get from those who got….? Oh hang oh so Fiji you got that thing with the French haven’t you, they got all those training camps and academies they are gonna set up in your country so your players can go there and fill out those immigration papers so Fijian rugby is aligned to French rugby.

“What are the reasons for the islands to preserve the status quo of World Rugby? Explain that to me cause I just don't get it and Samoa. Why on earth do you want to keep what’s going on right now? Why would you not want change? Why would you vote when something is being promised somewhere by someone? The way that the voting happened is just outrageous!”

A statement released by World Rugby says Beaumont’s re-election as the IRB Chairman will be confirmed at the World Rugby annual council meeting when it meets on May 12. 

Both candidates agreed to an early announcement given the process concluded at first round stage and no further votes were required for the Vice-Chairman and Executive Committee positions.

Beaumont, in partnership with Laporte, will build on strong foundations to deliver a mandate of progressive reform, uniting stakeholders for the betterment of the game for all.

This will include enhanced governance reform, an aligned and integrated approach to the global international calendar, accelerated prioritisation of player welfare, injury-prevention and modified contact variants, accelerated promotion of the women’s game and sustainable investment the sport.

The new Executive Committee will comprise: Sir Bill Beaumont (Chairman), Bernard Laporte (Vice-Chairman, Fédération Française de Rugby), Brett Gosper (Chief Executive), Angela Ruggiero (Independent), Lord Mervyn Davies (Independent); Mark Alexander (South African Rugby Union), Khaled Babbou (Rugby Africa), Bart Campbell (New Zealand Rugby), Gareth Davies (Welsh Rugby Union), John Jeffrey (Scottish Rugby), Bob Latham (USA Rugby) and Brett Robinson (Rugby Australia).

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