Bill Beaumont and Agustín Pichot have been elected World Rugby Chairman and Vice-Chairman, respectively, on an historic day in Dublin.
The pair, who stood unopposed, were unanimously voted in by members of World Rugby’s Council in accordance with the bye-laws at its annual meeting. Both World Rugby Hall of Fame inductees, the pair will succeed Chairman Bernard Lapasset and Vice-Chairman Oregan Hoskins, who previously announced they would not seek re-election.
The election comes on an historic day that ushered in the implementation of expanded union representation on Council and the appointment of two independent directors to the federation’s Executive Committee.
RFU and Six Nations Rugby chairman Beaumont, has also been central to World Rugby’s decision-making bodies for more than a decade, served as vice-chairman from 2007 to 2012, and has been a key figure on the World Rugby Council, Executive Committee, Rugby World Cup Board and Rugby Committee bodies. As RFU chairman, Beaumont presided over the delivery of what will be remembered as the biggest and best Rugby World Cup to date.
He was also a decorated player, making his debut for England in 1975 going on to win 34 caps and leading England to their first Grand Slam for 33 years in 1980. Beaumont also played for the British and Irish Lions and later accompanied them as tour manager for the tour to New Zealand in 2005.
Beaumont said: “I am honoured to accept the mandate of Council to serve as World Rugby chairman at what is an exciting and pivotal time for the sport. Rugby has experienced significant and rapid growth, which is a credit to Bernard Lapasset and his leadership over the past eight years.
“The sport is in excellent health and over the next four years there will be many great opportunities to further develop and grow the game. However, we cannot be complacent. Rugby, like all sports, faces challenges and my manifesto outlines the five priorities focused on addressing these. These priorities are continuing to protect players, preserving integrity, enhancing global competition, optimising partnerships and empowering and strengthening unions.
“I will nurture the roots of rugby, our fundamental values and financial security and will make rugby decisions for rugby reasons. As World Rugby Chairman, I will work with unions over the next four years to deliver healthy, sustainable growth for the game we all love.”
With rugby experiencing unprecedented growth in new and emerging markets, Pichot’s election represents the first time that an Argentinian has served as Vice-Chairman and is a significant and proud moment for rugby in South America.
As President of Rugby Americas, a former captain of Argentina’s 15s (71 caps between 1995 and 2007, 28 as captain) and sevens teams and bronze medal winner at Rugby World Cup 2007, Pichot has been a driving force behind the rugby development of Argentina and South America on and off the field. Achievements include The Rugby Championship inclusion, Americas Rugby Championship establishment and the introduction of an Argentinian team in Super Rugby.
Pichot said: “I am honoured and excited to have been elected Vice-Chairman at what is an extremely exciting time for the growth and development of rugby and I would like to thank my Council colleagues and friends for their support and confidence.
“I look forward to working alongside Bill, with the support of the new-look Council and EXCO to serve rugby at all levels, promote inclusivity and equality and ensure that our great sport can continue its record growth into new and emerging rugby nations around the world.”
Outgoing Chairman Lapasset added: “Rugby is in great shape around the world and I am proud that I vacate the position after eight wonderful years, during which we have achieved record participation, increased interest and engagement, Olympic inclusion and record-breaking Rugby World Cups.
“I leave with a dynamic new governance model implemented and I am delighted that my colleague and friend, Bill Beaumont, with a clear vision and strong passion for the global development of rugby, will drive the game into this exciting period. The future is very bright for our sport with the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and a ground-breaking Rugby World Cup in Japan all major milestones before the end of this decade.
“I would like to thank all my colleagues on Council, EXCO, the unions, the World Rugby executive and of course all members of the global rugby family, including players and fans, for their passion, dedication and support during my time as Chairman. It has been an incredible journey.”