Clive Woodward has issued a ten-point plan to save rugby and reinforced the credentials of Agustin Pichot ahead of votes being cast next Sunday in the World Rugby chairman election. The Argentine is viewed as the underdog in a contest against current chairman Bill Beaumont where the result won’t be official known until May 12.
But the coach who guided England to World Cup glory in 2003 believes Pichot has what it takes to guide rugby into a better, more open-minded future.
Writing in his latest Daily Mail column, Woodward explained what has particularly bugged him in this election contest is how just one of the Six Nations CEOs have allegedly replied to the personal email sent to them by Pichot ahead of the vote.
Aghast that every voting member from around the world hasn’t had the inclination to find the opportunity during the coronavirus pandemic stoppage of rugby to hold a video call with Beaumont and Pichot to discuss their respective manifestos, Woodward has called on delegates to open their minds and vote for the good of World Rugby and not just self-interest.
Among the ten principles outlined were the introduction of promotion and relegation at Test level which Woodward believes is currently killing the game as ambitious countries have nowhere to go to progress under the current structure. “Two global annual tournaments — one in Europe, one in the Pacific — with promotion and relegation would ignite the game and bring full houses for every match,” he reasoned.
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Woodward also voiced his disproval that ten nations — the Six Nations and the four Rugby Championship teams — have three votes each and the other 70-plus rugby nations have 21 between them, that next Sunday vote won’t be openly transparent on who votes for who, that the Pacific Islands have little voice despite providing approximately more than 15 per cent of professional players worldwide, and that the Lions only tour the three big southern hemisphere countries.
He also tackled player eligibility rules, insisting that players should not be allowed to represent two nations and that the current project player allowance – where players can qualify for another nation through residency – must be increased to a minimum seven years.
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