SYDNEY (Reuters) - New Zealand Rugby has called on newly re-elected World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont to take the courageous decisions necessary to ensure that elite rugby is sustainable for more than just a few nations.
Former England captain Beaumont won a second four-year term as head of the sport's global governing body by beating Argentine Augustin Pichot 28-23 in a ballot of the World Rugby Council with the result announced on Saturday.
Pichot, calling for root-and-branch change in the game with an emphasis on helping out developing nations, had attracted the support of the southern hemisphere powers but failed to make any headway in Europe.
NZR Chairman Brent Impey congratulated Beaumont on his success but said the 68-year-old must recognise that the short election campaign had revealed a huge appetite for change.
"We are of course disappointed for Agustin Pichot as he had our vote, and it is important to us that whoever won the election will heed the calls for change to the game," he said in a statement.
"There is still a level of governance reform that is overdue, and it would be good to see the courage taken to make the decisions needed to ensure the continued sustainability and success of rugby globally – not just for a limited number of unions and regions."
Former Argentina scrumhalf Pichot, who has served as Beaumont's vice-chairman for the last four years, posted a short statement on Twitter.
"Congratulations Bill!" he wrote. "Not this time, thanks to all for the support from the bottom of my heart."
In his campaign manifesto, Beaumont had promised an independent review of World Rugby's governance and to spearhead the drive for a global calendar.
Critics will point to the make-up of the new Executive Committee, which was also elected in the ballot, as evidence of the need for change.
The 12-strong body included only three representatives from outside the game's traditional heartlands - a Tunisian and two Americans - with one of those the only woman.
Beaumont's first call after his re-election was for continued unity as the sport deals with impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought a stop to rugby around the world and caused major financial problems for unions big and small.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, Editing by Himani Sarkar)