Dubai: The UAE’s Qais Al Dhalai has assured that Asia Rugby will continue pressing for its rightful place on the world stage despite the loss of its candidate in the general elections earlier this week.
Sir Bill Beaumont, former England international, was elected for a second term as World Rugby chairman as he defeated Asia-backed Agustin Pichot from Argentina by a 28-23 margin.
Pichot, who had promised more transparency and a level-playing field to smaller rugby federations, was Beaumont’s vice chairman till he decided to challenge his chairman’s re-election and lead World Rugby for another four years.
“I think that providing substantial financial support to regions must be one of the top priorities alongside reforming the governance structure within World Rugby,” Asia Rugby President Al Dhalai told Gulf News.
“A region like Asia is geographically massive and the biggest with youth population worldwide. So, shouldn’t providing reasonable funding to Asia be something that is logical and sensible?” he asked.
Asia Rugby received around £1.3 million (Dhs 6 million) last year. Asia consists of 31 member unions and are likely to increase to 34 with the addition of three new associations in the near future.
“We’ve got more than 30 annual competitions held throughout the year and among these are three of the most successful sevens events - in Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong. In addition, we maintain a solid group of match officials, judicial offices and Asia is ranked the number one region in the ‘Get Into Rugby’ programme among all six regional associations. I think this gives us enough of a reason to be looked at with fairer financial funding especially during these days when COVID-19 has affected the sponsorship market,” Al Dhalai remarked.
“While we wish Sir Beaumont all the best on his re-election, we also assure him of all our support going forward. But that said, as a continent Asia would like to see the World Rugby Chairman reaching out and providing the objectives he has outlined in his candidacy manifesto,” Al Dhalai stressed.
Pichot had positioned himself as the candidate for ‘change,’ saying he wanted global realignment of our game. However, Sir Bill was known to have loyal backing in the northern hemisphere with the unions which make up the Six Nations expected to support his bid - accounting for 18 of the 51 available votes.
Fiji and Samoa are among the seven unions given one vote in the election, along with Canada, the United States, Uruguay, Georgia and Romania. Each of the 10 Tier 1 unions in the Six Nations and Rugby Championship get three votes, while the six regional associations - Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, North plus Central America and South America - have two votes, as does Japan.
WORLD RUGBY EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
Sir Bill Beaumont (Chairman); Bernard Laporte (Vice-Chairman); Brett Gosper (World Rugby Chief Executive); Angela Ruggiero and Lord Mervyn Davies (Independents); Mark Alexander (South African Rugby Union); Khaled Babbou (Rugby Africa President); Bart Campbell (New Zealand Rugby); Gareth Davies (Welsh Rugby Union); John Jeffrey (Scottish Rugby); Bob Latham (USA Rugby); Brett Robinson (Rugby Australia).