Paris (AFP)

Stability and continuity until 2024: unsurprisingly, the Englishman Bill Beaumont was re-elected to head World Rugby for the next four years, while the Argentinian Agustin Pichot, his former right-hand man, failed in his attempt to rob him of the presidency.

Unlike 2016, when he was unanimously elected without a competitor, Sir Bill Beaumont this year faced a major contender in the person of his vice-president between 2016 and 2020, the Argentinian Agustin Pichot.

The 68-year-old Englishman was a favorite in this election, benefiting from the 18 votes of the Six Nations - England, Scotland, France, Ireland, Italy, Wales - favorable to his re-election.

Opposite, the nations of the Rugby Championship - South Africa, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand (12 votes) - had placed themselves behind the "Little General", nickname of the brilliant Argentinian scrum half during his international career ( 71 capes).

In an election held between April 26 and 30, at a distance and in the context of an economic and health crisis linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, Beaumont won 28 votes (23 for Pichot), enough to obtain the majority of the 51 votes.

The result of the election started on April 26 and ended five days later should have been announced on May 12, at the next meeting of the Council of the body, but World Rugby was able to advance its process, with the agreement of all parties.

"Over the past four years, we have accomplished a lot, but we are at half time and we must continue on this path in the second half," said Beaumont, former captain of the XV de la Rose (34 caps). in the 1970s and 1980s), thanking Pichot.

He also evokes a "clear mandate to work with Bernard (Laporte, his new vice-president, Editor's note) to set up a progressive and lasting change".

- Challenge of the Covid-19 crisis -

"It did not happen. Thank you all! With all my heart," tweeted Pichot, who pleaded in his electoral campaign to "transform mentalities" and "make rugby more democratic, more honest", wanting to be the representative of the emerging nations of the discipline.

Vice-president of the body between 2003 and 2016, Beaumont launched himself at the end of January in search of a second mandate as president.

He had formed a ticket with the president of the French Rugby Federation, Bernard Laporte, who becomes vice-president for the next four years, as of May 12 when the next meeting of the Council of the body will meet to validate the results.

"In this time of unprecedented and major crisis, we must now act to bring together the nations of the South and the North and define a reassuring future that respects our differences; to bring together the Federations and the professional leagues around a single design ", reacted the president of the FFR.

If Beaumont's first term as head of World Rugby was marked by the success of the 2019 World Cup in Japan, the future looks difficult.

The Covid-19 pandemic put a stop to the championships in the different countries and forces the governing body of world rugby to review its international calendar for the year 2020.

In addition, the financial question will become more and more pressing, while the survival of several national federations threatened by the crisis will be at stake. For this, World Rugby announced the release of a relief fund of 100 million dollars (about 92 million euros).

"Now is not the time for celebration. We have work. We are facing Covid-19 and we need to put in place a strategy to return to rugby, which puts the health of the players first," said pointed out Beaumont.

He wants to "optimize any opportunity to resume international rugby this year, in cooperation with club competitions, for the benefit of the players, supporters and the general financial health of the sport".

© 2020 AFP