Agustin Pichot wants to put British and Irish Lions on global stage

North and South America would love to see home nations’ side says election hopeful

Former Argentine captain Agustin Pichot aims to discuss his views with each of the Six Nations unions during his campaign. Picture: PA

World Rugby chairman candidate Agustin Pichot would take the British and Irish Lions to a global stage if he is 
elected

The Argentine is in a head-to-head battle with current chairman Sir Bill Beaumont for the position going into the final week of campaigning and has promised changes.

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The Lions tour New Zealand, Australia and South Africa on rotation every four years, but Pichot wants to see them visit North and South America.

“People think I don’t like tradition, but I speak to Lions players like Brian O’Driscoll and it’s a great product,” Pichot told the Daily Mail.

“I love it. There is still room for the Lions. It is a traditional thing but we can still add a modern look to it.

“I would use the Lions on a more worldwide scale. I would like to see that brand travel even further.

“They would be very popular in North and South America but that’s a conversation to have with the CEO of the Lions.”

Pichot hopes to end Beaumont’s four-year reign in the sport’s top job, but has not received any feedback from the majority of the Six Nations unions.

“I would like to talk to each individual union,” added Pichot. “I sent a personal note to every country and I haven’t had any replies from some of the CEOs.

“I only received one email asking me about the future of the game from the Six Nations unions – that was Wales – and I think that’s poor. Every CEO should be responsible for learning what is best for the game, even if they don’t 
support you.”

Meanwhile, World Rugby is investigating allegations of homophobia against a leading figure in the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU), which supported Beaumont’s bid for re-election as chairman of the global governing body.

The Sunday Times reported it had heard a recording of FRU chairman Francis Kean, while he was in charge of the Fiji prison service, in which the paper alleged homophobic language was used.

“World Rugby notes allegations in the UK Sunday Times about Fiji Rugby Union chairman Ratu Vilikesa Bulewa Francis Kean and takes them extremely seriously,” a statement from World Rugby said.

“Rugby is a sport built on strong and inclusive values and World Rugby does not in any way condone any abusive or discriminatory behaviour, as outlined within its bye-laws.

“World Rugby is currently in dialogue with the Fiji Rugby Union about the nature of the allegations and it would be inappropriate to comment at this time.”

Beaumont hopes to see off the challenge of Pichot for the position of World Rugby chairman for the next four years when the election is held next month.

Beaumont, the current incumbent, had his bid to be retained endorsed by the French Rugby Federation (FFF), which was seconded by the FRU – the organisation rather than individually by its chairman.

Kean, who was convicted of manslaughter in 2007, is trying to secure a seat on the World Rugby Executive Committee but the allegations against him mean he is under pressure to withdraw from the race.

Kean currently sits on the World Rugby council as a representative of Fiji.

World Rugby says a place on its council is awarded to a union and not an individual, with Fiji meeting the relevant criteria under the revised governance process launched in November 2015.

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