Decision on next World Rugby boss 'imminent' as vote closes

Bill Beaumont and Agustin Pichot (Getty Images)
Bill Beaumont and Agustin Pichot (Getty Images)

World Rugby could reveal its next chairperson as early as Saturday after incumbent Bill Beaumont and rival Agustin Pichot reportedly asked to bring the announcement forward. 

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Voting closed on Thursday and the announcement was originally to be made on 12 May.

But according to the BBC website, one of the candidates has won a majority and Beaumont and vice-chairperson Pichot have agreed to bring the announcement forward.

Once that request is cleared by the World Rugby council, the governing body will announce who will lead the game for the next four years following an extremely tight race.

Each of World Rugby's 51 council members gets a vote, excluding the chairperson, with 26 needed for a majority.

Beaumont, a former England skipper, is regarded as a narrow favourite, with the backing of the Six Nations unions and Rugby Europe - a total of 20 of the votes needed.

However, ex-Argentina captain Pichot's vow to shake-up the sport has earned him the support of the Saanzar unions, as well as South America and Asia.

Beaumont's campaign was also mired in controversy when it emerged that Fiji Rugby Union chairperson Francis Kean, who had seconded Beaumont's nomination, was convicted of manslaughter.

With the North American votes thought to be split, the vote could be determined by Japan and Rugby Africa.

It has resulted in one of the closest campaigns in the sport's history and following the closing of the vote, Beaumont acknowledged "the positive and passionate debate" Pichot brought to the contest.

"It's ignited constructive discussion about priorities that will strengthen the global game," Beaumont said.

WHO CAN VOTE?

Eighteen countries plus six regions will take part in voting, leading to a total of 51 votes which will be "in secure electronic form" and both managed and audited in Switzerland.

Thus, 26 votes and you're the winner!

The six Six Nations countries - England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France and Italy - all have three votes, while the four Saanzar countries - New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina - also have three votes.

This alone would appear to make Beaumont the bookies' favourite as the Six Nations countries are likely to vote for England's Beaumont, while the Saanzar votes will go to Argentina's Pichot.

Those votes alone should leave it 18-12 in favour of Beaumont.

Japan have two votes while the other seven countries - Romania, Georgia, Uruguay, USA, Canada, Samoa and Fiji - have one apiece.

That's a total of 39 'country' votes.

In addition, the six regions of Africa, Asia, Europe, North/Central America, South America and Oceania each have two votes, giving a total of 12 'region' votes - and an overall total of 51.

Should the Six Nations votes go as expected, Beaumont would only need a further eight votes to retain his seat ... and it's difficult to see him not doing just that when one considers Romania (1), Georgia (1), USA (1), Canada (1) and the regions of Europe (2), North/Central America (2) are all expected to put a 'X' next to his name.

At this stage it isn't clear what the thinking of Japan (2) and Asia (2) in particular is. It must be remembered that in the voting for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, Japan voted for France ahead of South Africa - despite having a team (Sunwolves) in Super Rugby.

Even more hurtful, Africa's vote went against South Africa too!

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