Will Greenwood hopes World Rugby are quick to react to challenges after Bill Beaumont re-election
Beaumont beat Argentine Agustin Pichot in first round of voting
Last Updated: 02/05/20 6:18pm
Will Greenwood says rugby must make long-lasting positive changes and not "waste this opportunity" to make the sport "a truly global game" after Sir Bill Beaumont was re-elected as as World Rugby chairman.
Beaumont was re-elected by beating Argentine Agustin Pichot in the first round of voting and called for unity amid the coronavirus pandemic, the sport's governing body said on Saturday.
Former England captain Beaumont won by a 28-23 margin to secure a second consecutive four-year term - the result being announced a week earlier than expected.
Frenchman Bernard Laporte, who was running unopposed, was elected vice-chairman and the pair face many challenges, not only in guiding the sport through the coronavirus pandemic.
Will Greenwood hopes the challenge of Pichot will see World Rugby make positive changes to the global game.
"I think six or seven months ago people would have expected Bill Beaumont to be ushered in and a slow change to start taking place - if any at all," said Greenwood.
"I think there is a real duty of care from the World Rugby council now to try and get people around a table, to have the clubs involved, to have a better structured club game that has player welfare at its heart. There has an annual international calendar that has some sort of story behind it as opposed to a hotch potch of games.
"If rugby wastes this opportunity to come together and almost start with a blank sheet of paper and understand what is it that will make this game a truly global game then we may as well pack up and go home."
Greenwood believes Pichot's late entry into the race highlighted the frustration many countries felt with the way World Rugby was governing the sport and how the balance of power was shared.
"The reality of it all is that up to three weeks ago no one had heard of an election taking place in World Rugby," added Greenwood.
"What propelled this into the headlines is this late charge from Agustin Pichot. He has been quoted as saying things like 'World Rugby is not fit for purpose', even though he has been working within the corridors of power for the last four years as Sir Bill's vice chairman."
It is believed the northern hemisphere voted for Beaumont while Pichot had the backing of the southern hemisphere.
Beaumont won the race with 28 votes to 23, but with 10 countries having three votes each (Six Nations countries plus, South Africa, Australia, Argentina and New Zealand), Greenwood said it was very close.
"The scores were 28-23 but it would only have taken one Six Nations country to switch and Agustin would have won 26-25," he said.
"You start to understand how the distribution of voting rights and is that governance going to be looked over in the next few years to try and create a far more balanced state of affairs.
"That is potentially why the northern hemisphere went with Sir Bill because of the status quo and that he is someone that leads with a calm hand. He has a negotiating style that gets people in the room - I am not saying that Agustin Pichot goes in there like a bull in a china shop!
"There is a whole host of countries around the world who understand the powerhouses of World Rugby are England and France in terms of the financial money raised. The chairman and the vice chairman who have just been given the mandate from World Rugby council are England and France and it just keeps on going back to the age old phase of would the turkeys ever vote for Christmas?
"It is critical they [rugby unions] are all singing off the same hymn sheet as opposed to different governing bodies and unions having their own negotiating positions."