World Rugby’s election has taken a murky turn with the support by France of executive committee candidate Francis Keen, a convicted killer. The Fijian union president is already a member of World Rugby’s council, but he now seeking a promotion in the May elections. 

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Kean, who was convicted of manslaughter after killing a man in 2006, served just three months of an 18-month sentence after the assault which happened at the wedding of one of Prime Minister’s Frank Bainimarama’s daughters a month after Bainimarama seized power in a military coup. Kean has since made his way up the corridors of power in the rugby world, but his latest alliance will raise eyebrows. 

Eight candidates have been unveiled by World Rugby to contest the election for seven places on its executive committee and Kean, who is also Bainimarama’s brother-in-law, was nominated and proposed by the Fiji Rugby Union and seconded by the Federation Francaise de Rugby, whose president Bernard Laporte is seeking to become World Rugby’s new vice-president. 

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Ex-England boss Clive Woodward backs Agustin Pichot to become World Rugby’s next chairman

The result of the World Rugby election will be announced on May 12 and Fiji’s support for Laporte, who is a running mate of chairman Bill Beaumont, is seen as important in the attempt to stop Argentina’s Agustin Pichot from becoming chairman. 

Ex-France coach Laporte is viewed as a skilled deal-maker who was instrumental in his country’s successful bid to host the 2023 World Cup after World Rugby had initially recommended South Africa to host the tournament in its evaluation findings before the process went to a council member vote.  

Kean’s executive committee nomination appears to be at odds with chairman Beaumont’s election manifesto which promises a wide-ranging governance review look at the “purpose, role, remit and membership of exco, council, general assembly and committees”.

The seven other nominations for the executive committee spots are Mark Alexander (South Africa), Khaled Babbou (Rugby Africa), Bart Campbell (New Zealand), Gareth Davies (Wales), John Jeffrey (Scotland), Bob Latham (USA) and Brett Robinson (Australia). 

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