World Rugby election announcement is brought forward with Sir Bill Beaumont expected to continue in role as chairman for another four years
- The result of the World Rugby chairman election will be announced on Saturday
- Former England captain Sir Bill Beaumont is expected to claim victory
- Beaumont’s bid for a second term was rocked by scandal involving Francis Kean
- Candidate Agustin Pichot had gained support from the southern hemisphere
Sir Bill Beaumont will discover on Saturday if, as expected, he has been elected to continue as World Rugby chairman for another four years – after the result announcement was brought forward by 10 days.
The ballot concluded on Thursday and it emerged on Friday that the 51 votes had produced the necessary majority. The initial intention had been to declare a winner on May 12, but after criticism of the drawn-out process, there is now due to be a statement issued by the global governing body at 3pm UK time.
Voters had the option of abstaining, which meant that there could have been a draw, which would have led to a second round of voting next week. However, as that scenario has not come to pass, former England captain Beaumont and his rival, Argentine icon and ex-Pumas skipper Agustin Pichot, have agreed to the announcement taking place sooner.
It is expected to be announced that Sir Bill Beaumont will continue as World Rugby chairman
There has been considerable interest in the election and there is much anticipation about the result. Beaumont has always been considered the favourite and he is still widely expected to win, but Pichot mounted a compelling challenge and all the latest indications were that the battle between them was on a knife-edge.
Sources had repeatedly indicated to Sportsmail in recent days that there were only ‘one or two votes in it’, despite the fact that Beaumont appeared to have narrowly avoided any of his Six Nations power base opting to switch their allegiance to Pichot.
There was a north-south split, with Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa all backing Pichot – leaving the result in the hands of the regions and smaller nations.
There was late controversy on Friday when the German rugby federation publicly protested about the way Rugby Europe, the continent’s governing body, opted to cast their two votes in favour of Beaumont. It was claimed that member unions were not properly consulted before the decision was made – prior to Pichot even announcing his candidacy.
Candidate Agustin Pichot’s bold vision had gained him support in the southern hemisphere
The incumbent’s bid for a second term in the role had been rocked by the scandal involving Francis Kean, the Fiji Rugby Union chairman and convicted killer who was ousted from the World Rugby council and ruled out of the running for a place on the executive committee. He had been proposed for that exalted post by Bernard Laporte, Beaumont’s election ally. In turn, the FRU had seconded Beaumont’s nomination as chairman.
Fiji’s vote was seen as critical in the final outcome, depending on whether they opted to stay loyal to Beaumont after swift action was taken against Kean, who is facing fresh charges of homophobia and discrimination.
Tonga coach and ex-Wallaby No 8 Toutai Kefu suggested in an interview Down Under that, having spoken to various contacts in the Pacific islands, there was a possibility that Fijian support might have shifted to Pichot.
There was similar doubt and intrigue about the intentions of Japan, Romania, the USA and various other unions. All will be revealed on Saturday afternoon. Beaumont is expected to prevail and pursue gradual reform, but Pichot had pitched for what amounted to a revolution and gained considerable backing for his bold vision.
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