Stadium celebrations and online compilations of big hits have drawn the ire of World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont as he continues the PR campaign which he hopes will get him re-elected when the result of a council vote is announced on May 12. Beaumont is up against his running mate from 2016, current vice-president Agustin Pichot, in the battle to govern rugby’s global governing body through to 2024. 

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He so far appears to be politicking well in the corridors of power, the Italian union the latest to publicly vouch its support for him in the countdown to the casting of electronic votes on April 26. 

However, some of his latest commentary on trends in the sport might not be popular, particularly with paying customers whose value to rugby has been emphasised with the loss in recent weeks of matchday revenue to clubs all over the world following the game’s suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

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Mako Vunipola takes on Denis Buckley in the final of the RugbyPass FIFA charity tournament

Speaking in an interview with the UK Telegraph newspaper, Beaumont took aim at the culture celebrating the bit hit, claiming it puts an unhealthy emphasis on potentially reckless and dangerous tackles ahead of skills being well executed.  

“If you go to a Premiership game and there is often a bigger cheer for someone getting wiped out in a tackle than there is for somebody doing a superb break and scoring try,” said Beaumont, whose candidacy hasn’t been universally popular as high profile figures such as 2003 World Cup winner Clive Woodward believes it’s time for radical change and the backing of a younger man in Pichot. 

“You look on YouTube, the compilations for biggest hits get a lot more views than those for best tries or greatest dummies. That is very unhealthy. I would like to see more emphasis put on skill, dexterity, sleight of hand. To me, that is what the game of rugby is all about.”

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