New Zealand Rugby says it backed challenger Agustin Pichot against incumbent Bill Beaumont in the contest for the chairmanship of World Rugby out of frustration at the governance of the world body.
Chairman Brent Impey said NZR has been
frustrated for “many years” with World Rugby’s policies and direction
and supported Pichot, currently Beaumont’s deputy, as a reform
New Zealand, with Sanzaar
partners Australia, South Africa and Argentina support Pichot. However,
Beaumont has the support of the Six Nations group — England, Ireland,
Scotland, Wales, Italy and France — and is expected to amass the 26
votes he needs to remain chairman. The outcome of the election will be
announced May 12.
Impey told New Zealand’s annual meeting Thursday he hoped the winner of the election would heed calls for change.
“If you look back over
many years, World Rugby has been very frustrating from a New Zealand
perspective,” Impey said. “And I think the straw that broke the camel’s
back was the Nations Championship, which we were strongly in favor of.”
World Rugby was unable to
win the support it needed to establish the Nations Championship — a
test championship involving top tier nations — because of opposition
from the Six Nations. New Zealand was a strong supporter of the
championship and of a promotion-relegation system which would allow Tier
Two nations such as Fiji to win their way into the tournament.
Impey said New Zealand
sought other reforms which Beaumont was reluctant to push in the face of
northern hemisphere opposition. They included efforts to establish a
global season, to give more opportunities to second tier nations and to
allow former Tier One players to play for Tier Two nations later in
The failure of Beaumont and World Rugby to get the Nations Championship off the ground angered New Zealand and other southern hemisphere nations.
“That was the straw that said this
organization needs major reform,” Impey said. “We see both candidates
have got a platform of governance reform and that is also overdue.″
“We have felt dissatisfaction over the lack of progress over the last few years, on a range of issues. While we have great respect for Bill Beaumont as an individual, this has become an issue where there has been a lot of self-protection from existing players versus those of us, particularly the Sanzaar nations, who want to see the game grow.