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Convicted killer stood down from World Rugby Council after homophobia allegations

Francis Kean was convicted of committing manslaughter in 2006.

Rugby World Cup balls [file photo].
Rugby World Cup balls [file photo].
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

WORLD RUGBY HAS confirmed that the Fiji Rugby Union [FRU] has stood down its chairman, Ratu Vilikesa Bulewa Francis Kean, from the World Rugby Council following allegations published in the UK Sunday Times last weekend.

This means the FRU has also withdrawn Kean’s candidature for the World Rugby Executive Committee.

A report in the Sunday Times detailed accusations of “rampant homophobia” by Kean, who is a convicted killer and has been criticised by Amnesty International.

Kean had been proposed as one of eight people to stand for seven places on the World Rugby Executive Committee, with the elections taking place next month.

The Fijian candidate was seconded by the French Rugby Federation.

Bill Beaumont, who is standing for re-election as World Rugby chairman next month, had his nomination seconded by Kean and the Fiji Rugby Union.

However, in the wake of the Sunday Times’ article, which included graphic details of the incident that resulted in Kean being convicted of manslaughter in 2006 and the allegations of homophobia, World Rugby announced that it would investigate.

The Times reported that it had heard a recording of Kean using “violent and homophobic language” when he was in charge of the prison service in Fiji.

Pacific Rugby Players Welfare also wrote an open letter to World Rugby making further detailed allegations of misbehaviour by Kean.

Now, World Rugby has confirmed that the FRU has stood Kean down from the World Rugby Council, meaning his candidature for the Executive Committee, the top committee in the global game, is also withdrawn.

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“World Rugby takes all allegations of behaviour that is not in keeping with the sport’s strong and inclusive values and Bye-Laws extremely seriously,” reads an official statement.

“While it is important to stress that any allegations must be validated, following dialogue with World Rugby, the Fiji Rugby Union recognises the seriousness of the allegations made and the need for them to be fully investigated, and that it is in the best interests of the sport that Mr Kean steps down from the Council and his Executive Committee candidature be withdrawn.”

The FRU also confirmed that Kean’s seat on the World Rugby Council will be filled by the union’s CEO, John O’Connor.

That means there are now only seven nominations for the seven seats on the World Rugby Executive Comitteee, which will be confirmed on a teleconference call on 12 May.

Those nominated are John Jeffrey [Scotland], Gareth Davies [Wales], Mark Alexander [South Africa], Kaled Baddou [Rugby Africa], Bart Campbell [New Zealand], Bob Latham [USA], and Brett Robinson [Australia].

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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