What’s on the agenda for the re-elected Bill Beaumont?
Coronavirus, concussion, governance issues and building the status of the women’s game
Bill Beaumont has been re-elected as chairman of World Rugby. The 68-year-old fought off a challenge from his vice-chairman Agustin Pichot and will stay at the head of the governing body for the next four years. Photograph: PA
Bill Beaumont has been re-elected as the chairman of World Rugby.
The former England captain fought off competition from Agustin Pichot to be re-elected as chairman for a second term. Beaumont won a slim 28-23 majority in the vote ahead of his vice-chairman Pichot, who will be replaced by Frenchman Bernard Laporte.
Here we look at the biggest challenges which will be facing Beaumont:
The impact of coronavirus
An action plan needs to be drawn up — quickly. Leading unions are going to see massive drops in revenue and tier two countries will also be seeking support. International rugby this summer is looking unlikely and a workable plan needs to be in place ahead of the November internationals. World Rugby is already looking at the finances of all tier one nations and has promised to help those in trouble. But the Test calendar, which generates the bulk of the sport’s revenue, needs sorting. It seems a long time ago now, but the Six Nations has still to be completed.
A topic that is not going to go away, and one that is not just a burning issue for rugby union. The first issue to sort regarding safety is not even rugby-related — players and staff will need to be reassured that the necessary precautions are in place regarding Covid-19. Once that battle is won, attention will again turn to the long-term effects of playing rugby especially around concussion. World Rugby has launched a scheme called Activate — describing it as a “game-changer” — following research co-led by England Rugby and the University of Bath. It is claimed the exercise programme can reduce the risk of soft-tissue injuries by 26 and 40 per cent and concussion risk by 29 and 60 per cent in youth and adult rugby players, respectively. But a lot more still needs to be done in this field.
Allegations of unethical governance in the sport’s unions have led to reports that rugby union could be blocked from the Olympics. There is also frustration by southern hemisphere countries and many tier two unions that the Six Nations unions are too dominant — currently tier one nations have three votes each in elections.
The women’s game
Beaumont has been vociferous in his support for the women’s game, speaking of the importance in his manifesto — as did Agustin Pichot. Although World Rugby has increased female representation on its council, there are no women standing for a position on the executive committee. With drops in revenue expected for all sports due to the coronavirus pandemic, fears have been expressed that women’s sport could suffer as a consequence and Beaumont will want to ensure that does not happen in rugby union.