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Pichot to take on Beaumont and shake up World Rugby

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Chairman of World Rugby, Bill Beaumont. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Chairman of World Rugby, Bill Beaumont. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

PA

Chairman of World Rugby, Bill Beaumont. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Former Argentina scrum-half Agustin Pichot has emerged as a rival to England's Bill Beaumont as chairman of World Rugby.

Despite operating with Pichot as his deputy for his last term in charge being elected in 2016, Beaumont announced French official Bernard Laporte as his running-mate as he seeks another term.

Normally a formality, this year's ballot will be a battle between to opposing visions for the game with the outspoken former Puma determined to shake up the old order and wrest control of rugby away from the traditional power-brokers.

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, he outlined his plans for the job ahead of the May 10 election.

Included in the six-point blueprint is another tilt at achieving the Nations Championship which was voted down last year, while Pichot (inset) plans to use the current Covid-19 shutdown as an opportunity to realign the global season.

He is determined to grow the game beyond its traditional base, citing Brazil and Tunisia as emerging nations worthy of support, while he also wants the sport to develop a flagship video game in the mould of a FIFA or Madden in order to engage the growing e-sports audience.

"It is a critical time and a critical election. I have a different vision of the game to Bill. I'm not saying mine is better than his and I don't have a bad word to say against him, but we think differently," he said..

"Our sport has to adjust to the modern way. The system does not trust World Rugby… that's the reality. We have let politics get inside the organisation and that's not good. I have been a part of it and I should have pushed harder for a fairer system."

Pichot has been an outspoken figure in the world of rugby politics, railing against the sport's residency laws and pushing for an annual international tournament.

He invoked the ire of former Ireland coach Joe Schmidt when he criticised the selection of naturalised South African Jean Kleyn ahead of Irish-born Devin Toner for the World Cup

Pichot wants to revolutionise the tiered voting system at World Rugby.

Thirty three delegates have 50 votes between them at the organisation's Council, with Ireland among the 10 Tier One nations who have three votes, Japan and a number of regional bodies have two and the likes of Georgia and the United States have one each.

Pichot will rely on the support of Tier two nations, but could swing some fellow Rugby Championship countries his way with promises of a revenue-generating model for a global season.