World Rugby are to investigate Francis Kean, the chairman of the Fiji rugby union and World Rugby council member who was convicted of manslaughter in 2007, following allegations of "rampant homophobia" in the Sunday Times.
The newspaper heard and published “graphic recordings” of Kean while in charge of the Fiji prison service.
“World Rugby notes allegations in the UK Sunday Times about Fiji Rugby union chairman Ratu Vilikesa Bulewa Francis Kean and takes the nature of these allegations extremely seriously,” said a WR spokesman.
“Rugby is a sport built on strong and inclusive values and World Rugby does not in any way condone abusive or discriminatory behaviour as enshrined within its bylaws.
“It would be inappropriate to comment further until we have discussed the matter fully with the Fiji Rugby Union and have established all the facts.”
World Rugby bylaw 3f states that an objective of the organisation is to “prevent discrimination of any kind” against a country, private person or groups of people.
Kean was only nominated for the World Rugby executive committee having been seconded last week by the French rugby federation, whose president Bernard Laporte is running mate to Bill Beaumont's bid to be re-elected as WR chairman for a second term.
Thirteen years ago Kean was convicted of the manslaughter of John Whippy at the wedding of Fiji prime minster Frank Bainimarama's daughter, Ateca, to Whippy's nephew. The Sydney Morning Herald reported this week that Kean "punched and kicked Whippy and was dragged away but returned to kick him in the head".
Kean served a couple of months of an 18-month sentence while receiving his full salary. The Sunday Times revealed that Amnesty International have heavily criticised him “for the culture surrounding him after he was put in charge of prisons in 2016”.
He is a brother-in-law of Bainimarama, who came to power following a military coup in 2006, which Kean helped stage as head of the Fijian Navy
Beaumont stated in his re-election manifesto that he will be “undertaking a full review of the organisation’s governance” but he must first win a majority victory over former Argentina scrumhalf Agustín Pichot in the May 12th vote.
“The system does not trust World Rugby, that’s the reality” said Pichot. “We have let politics get inside the organisation and that’s not good. I have been a part of it and I should have pushed harder for a fairer system.”