Former England captain Sir Bill Beaumont has been re-elected as the 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.
Beaumont won with a slim 28-23 majority of the votes, World Rugby announced, while Bernard Laporte – the French Rugby Federation President – was voted in as the new vice-chairman.
Beaumont said: “I am honoured to accept the mandate of the World Rugby Council to serve as the international federation’s chairman once again and would like to thank my union and region colleagues, members of the global rugby family and, of course, my family for their full support.”
Rugby, like most sports, has been on hold as the coronavirus pandemic spread across the world, and it has cast doubt on whether the 2020 international calendar will be completed.
“Now is not the time for celebration,” said Beaumont. “We have work to do.
“We are tackling Covid-19 and must implement an appropriate return-to-rugby strategy that prioritises player welfare, while optimising any opportunity to return to international rugby this year in full collaboration with club competitions for the good of players, fans and the overall financial health of the sport.
“I am determined to ensure that the spirit of unity and solidarity that has characterised our work in response to an unprecedented global Covid-19 pandemic, is the cornerstone of a new approach that will deliver a stronger, more sustainable game when we emerge with new enthusiasm, a renewed purpose and an exciting future.”
Former England and British & Irish Lions lock Beaumont, 68, succeeded France’s Bernard Lapasset in 2016.
Pichot, who had worked alongside Beaumont for the last four years, had promised a radical new approach had he won the election, but fell just short.
Beaumont added: “I would like to thank Gus for his friendship and support over the last four years.
“While we stood against each other in this campaign, we aligned in many ways, and I have the utmost respect for him. Gus is passionate about the sport and his contribution has been significant.”
RFU CEO Bill Sweeney said: “On behalf of everyone at the RFU, I would like to congratulate Bill on his re-election.
“Bill is ideally placed to lead and unite rugby unions in strengthening the game, so we can address the immediate and longer term challenges.”
President of the French Rugby Federation Laporte was voted into his position unopposed.
He said: “Congratulations to my friend Sir Bill Beaumont on his re-election.
“I would also like to express my best wishes to Agustin Pichot, a legend of Argentinian rugby and a great rugby leader.
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