Dubai-Asia Rugby President, Qais Abdulla Al Dhalai announced on Saturday at the close of voting to determine Asia’s vote for the next World Rugby Chairman by its 28 voting member unions, 24 voted for Agustin Pichot while 2 voted for Bill Beamount with 2 abstentions.

Al Dhalai said: “My guiding principles of Equality, Transparency and Accountability were laid to bare when Asia Rugby allowed its individual Unions voice their own preferences unlike other regional associations whose Executive Committees usually made the determination on behalf of member unions.

“It is indeed unfortunate that a sport which aspires to be a global game to allows Asia’s 28 Unions to count for only 2 votes of the total of 51 votes on the World Rugby governance and voting system. This must change, and must change now if Rugby is to truly become a global sport,” he said and added: “Asia boasts a population of 4.5 billion and its booming economies are hotbeds of potential commercial partnership waiting to be fully maximized and leveraged on.”

“Asia has already hosted the most successful Rugby World Cup in Japan last year and it is currently home to 3 legs of HSBC World Sevens Series led firmly by the legendary Hong Kong 7s, the prestigious Dubai 7s and most recently the inspired Singapore 7s. 

“However, population and commercial partnerships aside, I believe that Pichot has the vision to build to sustainable competition pathway that will enable greater playing performance from Asia and all regions including emerging unions,” he asserted. 

Al Dhalai also expressed: “On behalf of Asia, we are confident that either candidate once wins the election will offer his utmost efforts to take rugby to the next levels to be more accessible to all unions equally either financially and from a governance perspective, embracing all means of Equality, Transparency and Accountability.

“To those of us who remember meeting Pichot when he was a newly-capped scrum-half in Buenos Aires in 1997, the Argentinian has hardly changed – the flowing black hair has shortened a little, but he remains a fast-talking polyglot who wears white trainers to black-tie dinners and answers a question about promotion and relegation in the Six Nations with a plea for the world to engage with his philosophy,” he added. 

As World Rugby’s Americas North representative Dennis Dwyer said last week, “Gus” Pichot wants change now, if not sooner, and this election is a battle of personalities as much as it is of two broadly similar manifestoes.