World Rugby have dismissed damaging allegations by the Pacific Rugby Players Welfare (PRPW) who claimed on Wednesday that governance of the game by the Dublin-based organisation was “glaringly deficient”.

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In a stinging 59-page dossier, the PRPW’s Veilomani Report – named after the Fijian term for loving one another – claimed World Rugby were in breach of its own bye-laws and International Olympic Committee (IOC) regulations. 

World Rugby had said that Bill Beaumont’s re-election as chairman in May was “fairly contested”, but PRPW boss Dan Leo wasn’t so sure. “We believe this year’s World Rugby elections should be reviewed in full,” he claimed after launching the PRPW report. 

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Serious questions are still to be answered about how Francis Kean, a man convicted of manslaughter, could have been accepted onto the World Rugby council. France had supported Kean’s nomination to World Rugby’s executive committee, though his candidacy was later withdrawn.

“Fiji supported Bernard Laporte’s successful bid for World Rugby’s vice-chairmanship, with the French union boss and Beaumont’s joint ticket ousting the challenge of Agustin Pichot. We believe that the entire process merits comprehensive review.”

World Rugby responded to the allegations later on Wednesday, issuing a five-paragraph response on the matter. It read: “World Rugby strongly refutes unsubstantiated and erroneous claims made by Pacific Rugby Players Welfare and their CEO Dan Leo regarding voting influence within the international federation’s recent election process and other governance matters. 

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“World Rugby is completely satisfied that the 2020 chairperson election was undertaken in accordance with a robust process with Bill Beaumont elected in a fair and appropriate manner. 

“World Rugby is an advocate of the promotion of best-practice governance structures in sport as evidenced by the recently published ASOIF report on international federation governance which has independently reviewed World Rugby’s governance and ranked World Rugby as a top-performing federation.

“Reflecting this commitment, World Rugby continually reviews its decision-making structures and is currently undertaking a governance review which is being independently chaired by Hugh Robertson and features player representatives appointed by International Rugby Players on the working group. The review scope includes examining criteria for a fit and proper person test for elected members.

“Furthermore, World Rugby only recognises International Rugby Players as the global representative body for players. Within its structures, players from the Pacific Islands are represented via Pacific Rugby Players.”

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