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Bill Beaumont reveals World Rugby manifesto and makes player safety a priority

Published 11/05/2016

Former England captain Bill Beaumont has been elected as chairman of World Rugby
Former England captain Bill Beaumont has been elected as chairman of World Rugby

Bill Beaumont has outlined a five-point manifesto after being unanimously elected as the new chairman of World Rugby.

The former England captain, 64, will replace Bernard Lapasset on July 1, leaving behind his roles as chair of the Rugby Football Union and the Six Nations.

His election was widely anticipated and was ratified at the governing body's board meeting in Dublin on Wednesday, with both he and new vice-chairman Agustin Pichot standing unopposed.

Beaumont had previously filled the latter post from 2007 to 2012, and has also served on World Rugby's executive committee and the Rugby World Cup board.

Speaking after the announcement, he was quick to highlight the most pressing matters of his tenure.

"The sport is in excellent health, and over the next four years there will be many great opportunities to further develop and grow the game," he said.

"However, we cannot be complacent. Rugby, like all sports, faces challenges, and my manifesto outlines the five priorities focused on addressing these.

"These priorities are continuing to protect players, preserving integrity, enhancing global competition, optimising partnerships and empowering and strengthening unions."

The first of those - player protection - looks likely to be a pressing concern for Beaumont, as he takes the lead in a sport that is still playing catch-up with the rapid physical changes seen among players in recent years.

Concussion protocols have become a hot topic and, although there is a greater enlightenment on the topic than in Beaumont's own playing days, he is keen to keep the issue firmly to the fore.

"It's our responsibility to make sure we look after the whole player and not just for 80 minutes, but for life," he said.

"I have sons that have played the game and they have played it from a very young age so like every parent I have concerns. We have to make certain that we can make the game as safe as possible and that is by constantly reviewing the laws of the game looking at our management.

"When I played, you played with concussion and you were a brave player. Now you're daft.

"There is far more scrutiny around concussion than there ever has been in my opinion but it's still not enough. We need to do more and more to make sure that we keep the game as safe as possible without losing the things that attract girls and boys, men and women to play the game.

"We can do more and will do more and will put more resources into it."

Beaumont also spoke supportively of helping to make rugby sevens a success in the Olympics and vowed to keep anti-doping measures strong throughout the game.

"We must protect rugby's integrity and ensure it's a clean credible sport," he said.

"Doping is a concern for us all. I think what we have to do is keep educating our players. We spend a lot of time, a lot of resources, not only in world rugby but individual unions, educating players that it isn't smart to take drugs and you'll be found out.

"And I think at the top level you have the reports from Rugby World Cup absolutely clean."

Lapasset's final significant act before passing on the reins to his successor was confirming the pool draw for the 2019 World Cup would be held in May 2017.

Japanese organisers had lobbied for the draw to take place in late 2016, keen to sell tickets for specific matches as soon as possible with the Olympics coming to the country in 2020.

Rugby's leading nations, however, were keen to push the draw as late as possible, to reduce the chances of another 'pool of death' such as the one that matched England, Wales and Australia in 2015.

"The pool allocation draw is an important milestone in the run-in to any Rugby World Cup and it really helps to build excitement and momentum," said Lapasset.

"With the identity of 12 teams already known, it will be of huge interest to players and fans to know which sides will be in their pool for what will be a game-changing tournament in Japan.

"While the draw is closer to the start of the tournament this time around compared to the previous Rugby World Cup, it is necessary to conduct it well in advance for logistical reasons and to allow for an effective ticketing programme to be implemented."

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