Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 2 December 2020

Asian Rugby chief calls on Bill Beaumont to spell out plans to 'modernise' rugby

Qais Al Dhalai seeking clarity on what the manifesto pledges will mean in reality

Asia Rugby president Qais Al Dhalai is remaining hopeful rugby could return this year. Getty Images
Asia Rugby president Qais Al Dhalai is remaining hopeful rugby could return this year. Getty Images

The head of rugby in Asia has called on Bill Beaumont to spell out his plans to modernise the sport, after he was re-elected as chairman of World Rugby.

It was confirmed on Saturday that the former England captain had been voted in ahead of Agustin Pichot to remain in charge of the world game for four more years.

Pichot, the former Argentina captain, had been regarded by many as they candidate most likely to try to modernise the sport.

Beaumont’s manifesto did include the need to review the organisational structure of the sport, and he spoke not wanting to be “seen to only support the ‘old guard’.”

Qais Al Dhalai, the president of Asia Rugby, is seeking clarity on what the manifesto pledges will mean in reality.

“Those are not really crystal clear objectives for the coming four years,” Al Dhalai said.

“What we require from the chairman is to be more specific, and reveal what are the changes that are going to modernise the sport.

“He should tell us now, because he is in office. If he doesn’t tell us his intention, how will we progress?”

After winning the vote, Beaumont reiterated the point that rugby needs to be a game for all, rather than just the established nations.

“As an organisation, we must lead, be transparent, accountable and continue to serve for all,” Beaumont said.

“We must be united in our drive to make this great sport even better, simpler, safer and more accessible.

“We must listen to players, fans, competitions, our unions and regions, and take decisions that are in the best interests of all with our strong values to the fore.”

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont, right, was voted in for a second term ahead of Agustin Pichot. Reuters
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont, right, was voted in for a second term ahead of Agustin Pichot. Reuters

Al Dhalai said Asia Rugby remain committed to working with Beaumont, and hopes he can push through the sort of changes that are required to make the sport “truly global”.

He believes change in the election process needs to be addressed "as a priority".

Under the system which saw Beaumont retain his role, countries involved in the Six Nations Championship were afforded three votes apiece.

That was a source of frustration for southern hemisphere nations, who believe the European elite are too dominant in the election process.

Further to that, a bloc of more than 20 countries under the Asia Rugby banner have just two votes between them.

“Being an Olympic sport, he needs to embrace change and, most importantly, equality,” Al Dhalai said.

“We talk about rugby values, so shouldn’t we change this? The voting system needs to be changed. Where is the problem if you give one vote to each union?

“This is one of our priorities. In sport, if you don’t have the right to vote, and the right to express your view in a constructive environment, you can’t progress.

“You can’t just ring-fence the voting system to serve just a few.

"The system has to be changed to show that rugby is truly a global sport.”

Asia Rugby, an association of all the unions on the continent apart from Japan, were afforded two votes in the process. They went public with the fact they voted for Pichot.

It has been reported that Japan, though, opted to use their two votes to support Beaumont.

“I contacted the JRFU chairman personally, and told him the result of our Asia vote,” Al Dhalai said.

“I revealed to him that this was the way Asia Rugby would go, in a transparent manner.

“He said they had an executive committee meeting where they would be calling both candidates, and make their decision later.

“They did not announce. There is speculation they voted the other way, but I don’t know that for certain.”

Updated: May 3, 2020 03:07 PM

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