Former World Cup-winning England coach Sir Clive Woodward has lambasted Fiji and Samoa for throwing their support behind Sir Bill Beaumont in last week’s race to become World Rugby chairman.
Writing in his Daily Mail column, the ex-British and Irish Lions boss has also grilled the Six Nations for having “let the wider game down” by supporting Beaumont.
An announcement was made over the weekend that Beaumont, the former England and Lions captain, was re-elected as World Rugby chairman after ousting former Argentina skipper Agustin Pichot 28-23 in a one-round vote.
Woodward was scathing in his review of how the voting played out, aiming his criticism at not just Fiji and Samoa, but also fellow tier two nations Japan and Canada for their backing of Beaumont.
While World Rugby hasn’t yet released a breakdown of the voting, Woodward indicated all four nations opted against voting for Pichot, who stood as a strong advocate for change from the status quo within the global rugby fraternity.
“If that is the case, our sympathy will be limited if those nations utter a word of complaint ever again at the lack of opportunity to play tier one nations or, in the case of the Pacific Island teams, about their best players being nicked by other countries,” Woodward wrote.
“Or being left virtually penniless when they play the likes of England in front of 80,000 at Twickenham — matches that gross in excess of £14 million for the RFU.
“Players in those countries should be outraged and asking why their unions did not vote for change.”
The Six Nations also copped a serve from the 21-cap former England international, with every member union of the competition using their three votes each to reinstate Beaumont.
Woodward described it as “shameful” that Wales were the only member of the competition to have reached out and discussed Pichot’s ideas with him.
“The rest of the Six Nations have let the wider game down,” the two-test Lions midfielder said. “They haven’t engaged publicly in debate and they were always going to vote en bloc — for the status quo and their own financial interest.
“They don’t really want the wider game to grow and improve, for there to be promotion and relegation from the Six Nations, or for there to be any kind of democracy in the voting.
“They don’t want their place at top table to be threatened. Rugby is going nowhere until their unnatural monopoly is broken.”
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Woodward questioned the “perverse voting system” that allowed “perennial underperformers” Italy to cast three votes in comparison to Fiji and Samoa, as both nations only held one vote, while Tonga didn’t have a say at all.
The 64-year-old was also concerned about the clear stand-off between the north and south, with the entire SANZAAR contingent of New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina backing Pichot’s campaign.
“That split is unhealthy, there is no joined-up thinking between the bigger nations; no genuine wish to grow the game elsewhere and let others in,” Woodward’s column read.
“As a result, the world game will just get smaller and smaller. The actual number of competitive nations never seems to increase so many of them have nowhere to go and the odds are too heavily stacked against them.”
“It means England and France are probably the only two nations able to ride out the financial storm. I can seem them getting stronger and stronger while other countries drop off at an alarming rate.”
Woodward concluded by stating that the closeness of the vote tally should act as a “massive wake up call” to the powers at World Rugby, highlighting that the result could have swung the other had any one of the Six Nations voted for Pichot.
“I wanted to wake up this morning with rugby energised about the future, a brave new world if you like, but instead it feels like same old, same old. We will have forgotten about the vote soon,” he said.
“A massive opportunity will have been missed.”
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