Qais Al Dhalai, President of Asia Rugby and Secretary General UAE Rugby Federation (second left) with Boutros Boutros, Divisional Senior Vice President Corporate Communication Emirates, and coaches and officials at the launch of Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens last year. Image Credit: Gulf News archive

Dubai: Asia’s rugby chief has assured that the continent will be pressing for its “pound of flesh” as soon as the new body is in place at World Rugby later next month.

The election process began on Monday [April 27] with former Argentine captain Agustin Pichot up against England’s Sir Bill Beaumont for the chairman’s post at the world governing body of the sport. The result will be announced only on May 12 along with the vote for vice-chairman and Executive Committee, and Asia Rugby President Qais Al Dhalai felt that the biggest continent needs to assert and press for its rights on the global stage.

Last week, Asia Rugby voted to support Pichot’s bid to chair the world governing body. Asian nations have been joined by the southern hemisphere Sanzaar countries (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina) while pressing for a change at the top.

“A lot of things look flawed at the moment,” UAE’s Al Dhalai, Secretary General of the UAE rugby body, told Gulf News.

“There is this group of seven – Romania, Canada, United States, Uruguay, Georgia, Samoa and Fiji – who get a vote each and the entire continent of Asia has just two votes. Further, they have the Six Nations championship where Italy perennially ends at the bottom of the pile. Why don’t they think of a relegation process for the Six Nations with the last-placed country making space for stronger nations such as Romania or Georgia?” Al Dhalai queried.

As per the voting system currently in vogue, 30 of the 51 votes are allocated to the 10, Tier-One unions within the Six Nations and Rugby Championship tournaments. Two votes go to each to the six regional associations and one vote for each for the seven unions (Canada, United States, Uruguay, Georgia, Romania, Samoa and Fiji).

“Bill [Beaumont] has gone on record that he will look into the voting process and also the distribution of finance to various continents. I find this amusing as Bill has been chairman of World Rugby for the past four years. Why did he not have a look at these pressing issues then?” Al Dhalai asked.

“We are all for ushering in transparency. I think the sport of rugby needs a change and we are headed in the right direction while aiming for a level-playing field,” he added.