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World Rugby advised to implement stricter checks on elected officials

The move follows accusations of backroom deals in the vote for a new chairman.

Image: Moritz Thibaud/ABACA

WORLD RUGBY IS to introduce a fit and proper person’s test for elected officials, rugby union’s global governing body said today.

The move, recommended by a working group led by former British sports minister Hugh Robertson, follows accusations of backroom deals in the vote for a new chairman.

In July, lobby group Pacific Rugby Player Welfare (PRPW) called for an independent review of the May election, when incumbent chairman Bill Beaumont defeated pro-reform candidate Agustin Pichot.

PRPW cited media reports claiming the French Rugby Federation (FFR), which backed Beaumont, offered Fiji preferential treatment in return for its vote.

The organisation questioned how Fiji Rugby Union chairman Francis Kean, who was convicted of manslaughter in 2007, was appointed to the World Rugby Council.

“We are undertaking this important and necessary process with the ambition of implementing and living the best-possible standards of good governance, furthering the effectiveness and diversity of our structures, ensuring they reflect the values and universality of the game,” Beaumont said of Robertson’s review in a World Rugby statement.

“We are heading in a very encouraging direction –- that enables us to best achieve our purpose of growing the sport worldwide by making it more relevant and accessible.

“All of the governance practices, processes and procedures we implement must be implemented meaningfully with that purpose in mind.”

Robertson’s review, which was launched in June and was former British and Irish Lions captain Beaumont’s idea, also calls for the establishment of an ethics and conduct charter for elected officials, a target of at least 40% of women on committees and player representation throughout all the committee structures.

“I am delighted that the World Rugby Council have given their full endorsement to the interim package of recommendations made by a very engaged and progressive working group,” Robertson told AFP. “These actions will strengthen diversity and inclusion and, for the first time, introduce an independent ethics structure.”

An update on the findings will be made to the World Rugby Council in May.

“We are at ‘half time’,” explained Robertson. “In the second half, we will consider the structure of the executive committee and the definition and classification of a diverse and growing family of national member unions.”

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