18 Jun 2020

World Rugby launches long-awaited governance review

4:39 pm on 18 June 2020

World Rugby has launched a governance review process which includes examining the criteria for prospective council and elected members.

The announcement comes more than eight weeks after the governing body promised an investigation into Fiji Rugby Union Chair Francis Kean, whose nomination for the powerful executive committee was hastily withdrawn following allegations of homophobia published in the Sunday Times.

Fiji's seat on the World Rugby Council had since been filled by their CEO, John O'Connor.

Former Samoa international Dan Leo, who now heads Pacific Rugby Players Welfare, also wrote a damning open letter about the former Fiji Navy commander to voting members, while the ABC have since reported allegations Kean kicked teenagers off World Rugby programmes to advance his own local club.

Fiji Rugby Union Chair Francis Kean, World Rugby Chair Bill Beaumont and Samoa Rugby Union Chair and PM, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi

Fiji Rugby Union Chair Francis Kean, World Rugby Chair Bill Beaumont and Samoa Rugby Union Chair and PM, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi Photo: World Rugby

Sir Bill Beaumont promised to undertake a full governance review in January, during his successful bid for a second four-year term as Chair of the global governing body.

"In our manifesto, Bernard Laporte and I made a promise to undertake a governance review to ensure World Rugby is agile in its thinking and decision-making and our structures further reflect the diversity and values of our game," Beaumont said.

British Olympic Committee Chairman, Sir Hugh Robertson, will chair the review working group comprised of independent experts, players and representatives from emerging and established rugby nations, including Oceania Rugby's Cathy Wong.

Oceania Rugby Women's Director Cathy Wong.

Oceania Rugby's Cathy Wong is among the governance review working group. Photo: Supplied/Oceania Rugby

"I am looking forward to working with this talented team from around the globe to conduct a comprehensive review and identify best practice," said the former UK Olympics Minister.

"Rugby is a thriving global sport, with a spirit of inclusivity, unity and diversity, and I am committed to ensuring that this is reflected in the review process and any recommendations made by the Working Group."

The working group's key focus areas include: gender balance and diversity on World Rugby Boards and Committees, player representation within World Rugby's governance structures and the criteria for appointment of World Rugby Council members and the fit and proper person test for elected members.

It is anticipated the review findings will be presented to the World Rugby Council later this year.