World Rugby’s chairman election has sparked yet another controversy, minnow rugby nation Germany revealing it was not consulted by Rugby Europe about who the association should vote for in the race between Bill Beaumont and Agustin Pichot. Voting closed in the election on Thursday and the result wasn’t expected to be announced until May 12 at the virtual World Rugby council meeting. 

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However, with a clear winner emerging after the first round of voting, a decision has now been taken to bring forward the announcement of the result to this weekend. This development came on the same day rugby officials in Germany hit out at the lack of consultation it had regarding how its governing association – Rugby Europe – was voting. 

Rugby Europe announced this week that it would be backing Beaumont in the election with its two votes, a show of support that came as news to the German rugby federation (Deutsche Rugby-Verband). 

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In a statement, the Germans revealed that Rugby Europe president Octavian Morariu gave Beaumont its support without a formal debate among Rugby Europe’s board on the respective manifestos of Beaumont and Pichot. The item was not listed for official discussion when the 14 board members last held a teleconference on April 8, days before Pichot had even announced his candidacy on April 13. 

The German revelation was followed some hours later by a report in the UK Telegraph that World Rugby would now announce the election winner this weekend rather than the scheduled May 12 date.

Initial projections suggested that Beaumont was leading Pichot 24-23 with the four votes of Japan and Rugby Africa yet to be confirmed. However, it has since been claimed that a clear winner in the 51-vote election had emerged, meaning there was no requirement for a second run-off next week. 

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World Rugby had nearly a fortnight for the votes to be tallied after the four-day voting window expired, but there is apparently an agreement by Beaumont and Pichot to bring the result announcement forward. 

When nominations closed for the election, the consensus was that Beaumont was too politically connected for Pichot to oust him. However, the ex-England captan’s campaign was harmed by the controversy that was his nomination being seconded by Francis Kean, the Fiji Rugby Union chairman who was previously convicted of manslaughter.

The negative commentary this prompted resulted in Kean withdrawing his candidacy in the World Rugby executive election and drawing greater attention to the changes Pichot was suggesting for the sport in his manifesto.

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