Voting for World Rugby’s next chairman opened on Monday with incumbent 68-year-old former England captain Bill Beaumont facing competition from ex-Argentina skipper Agustin Pichot.
Beaumont or Pichot, 45, must claim a majority of the 51 votes to be elected on a four-year term with results set to be announced on May 12.
Beaumont, who retired 12 years before the sport turned professional in 1995 has campaigned with the promise to open up the sport.
Current vice-chairman Pichot, who hung up his boots in 2009 after a club career in France, would like to see the body modernised and has used the hashtag #GlobalGame on social media.
The pair were behind scrapped plans for a Nations Championship as countries were worried about potential relegation from the top level of the global game.
“Going forward I’m sure there will be a variant of that,” Beaumont told AFP last week.
Pichot said he would bring in different aspects to the competition other than the Tier One male sides.
“I will start the discussions with the Nations Championship blueprint, but I’m not sure if that will be the outcome,” he told AFP earlier this month.
“It will talk about the emerging nations, more money for the women’s game,” he added.
– Fiji controversy –
Beaumont has overseen a $100 million relief package for the game during the coronavirus pandemic while Pichot sees the outbreak as a chance for the sport to restart.
The election process has been overshadowed by last Tuesday’s resignation of Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) chairman Francis Kean from the world body’s council after accusations of “rampant homophobia”.
Beaumont’s bid was seconded by the FRU but World Rugby stressed the former lock’s nomination came from the FRU, rather than from Kean.
Fijian support for Beaumont is seen as a counter-balance to Pichot, who is believed to have strong support among other second-tier nations.
Continental body Rugby Europe, who have two votes, said earlier in the day they have supported Beaumont in an electronic ballot process wich runs until Thursday.