Insiders are confident that Bill Beaumont’s re-election as chairman of World Rugby will not hinder Australia’s chances of hosting the 2027 World Cup nor cash-strapped RA’s hopes of securing a multi-million-dollar payout from the governing body.
Like New Zealand, RA had backed Beaumont’s challenger for the role, Augustin Pichot, but the former Argentina captain lost out 28-23 to the Englishman in a ballot of the World Rugby Council.
While French Rugby Federation president Bernard Laporte was voted unopposed into Pichot’s former position as vice-chairman and Beaumont will be in charge for another four years, Australia retains a strong presence at the table with Brett Robinson re-elected to the seven-man board and Brett Gosper remaining as World Rugby’s chief executive officer.
Although it will be disappointed that Pichot was not elected, it is understood RA has a healthy enough relationship with 68-year-old former England captain Beaumont to not be adversely impacted by his re-appointment.
After standing down 75 percent of its staff last month and cutting Australian Super Rugby players’ wages by an average of 60 percent, it was speculated that RA had been seeking $15 million of assistance from World Rugby.
There were reports that the huge financial injection would not be a loan but rather an advance payment of their share of the 2023 Rugby World Cup profits.
Rugby Australia has yet to comment on Beaumont’s re-election but New Zealand Rugby – who had thrown their support behind Pichot, who had pledged to undertake a root-and-branch review of the game with an emphasis on helping out developing nations – offered support but said Beaumont must recognise that the election campaign had revealed an appetite for change.
“We are of course disappointed for Agustin Pichot as he had our vote, and it is important to us that whoever won the election will heed the calls for change to the game,” NZR Chairman Brent Impey said in a statement.
“There is still a level of governance reform that is overdue, and it would be good to see the courage taken to make the decisions needed to ensure the continued sustainability and success of rugby globally – not just for a limited number of unions and regions.”
Critics will point to the make-up of the new Executive Committee, which was also elected in the ballot, as evidence of the need for change.
The 12-strong body includes only three representatives from outside the game’s traditional heartlands – a Tunisian and two Americans – with one of those, US Olympian Angela Ruggiero, the only woman.
Beaumont’s new four-year term will officially begin on May 12 when the results of the vote will be confirmed at World Rugby’s annual meeting of council.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now