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Dan Leo urges rivals Bill Beaumont and Agustin Pichot to fix inequality in the game

Bill Beaumont or Agustin Pichot, the rivals standing next month to lead World Rugby, must be shocked into a drastic overhaul of the game following the coronavirus pandemic. 

That is the view of Dan Leo, the former Samoa international who now campaigns on behalf of the financially weaker Pacific Island nations.  

World Rugby are set for a hotly-fought contest for its leadership next month after Pichot revealed in the Mail on Sunday he would stand against his old running mate and incumbent chairman Beaumont.

Agustin Pichot has launched a late bid to challenge Bill Beaumont in the presidential elections

Agustin Pichot has launched a late bid to challenge Bill Beaumont in the presidential elections

Agustin Pichot has launched a late bid to challenge Bill Beaumont in the presidential elections

And Leo has demanded the winner does not miss this chance to transform rugby.

‘The game can’t stay the way it is and it can’t revert to what it was,’ Leo, CEO of Pacific Rugby Players Welfare, told Sportsmail.

‘We’ve known that as ‘Tier Two’ nations for a long time. It’s very hard to convince the powers that be to change the model when they’re comfortable.

‘No one will be comfortable after this. Even the richest unions will feel the long-term impact.

Bill Beaumont (above) and Agustin Pichot are standing next month to lead World Rugby

Bill Beaumont (above) and Agustin Pichot are standing next month to lead World Rugby

Bill Beaumont (above) and Agustin Pichot are standing next month to lead World Rugby

‘I would hate us to not learn lessons from it.

‘This pause in the game is a real chance for rugby to look at ourselves. If we could start again as a sport what would we change?

‘Hopefully we can right the wrongs professionalism has adopted since 1995.’ 

While not keen to take sides between Pichot and Beaumont, Leo would back the former if he can deliver on his promises to involve emerging nations more.

The Samoan set out what any leader of the game’s governing body must do.

Former Samoa international Dan Leo campaigns on behalf of the Pacific Island nations

Former Samoa international Dan Leo campaigns on behalf of the Pacific Island nations

Former Samoa international Dan Leo campaigns on behalf of the Pacific Island nations

For Leo a good start would be a proper revenue-sharing model where the likes of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga are handed a fair split of gate receipts from matches against the top sides rather than the pittance they receive now.

‘Whoever comes into power has to put into practice the true values of rugby,’ added Leo.

‘We hold them up to the world, but we don’t really live them out.

‘Equality, fairness, community – that’s got to be reflected in our rugby leadership.

‘What you do with your money as a sport shows where your values lie.

‘At the moment, the money is distributed among the rich few. That does not showcase a sport that is inclusive, embraces diversity or looks after the little guy.

‘It comes from having someone at the top who’s not afraid to ruffle a few feathers.

‘We need an influencer to make a stand for what is right, and will help turn the tide for emerging nations.

‘If we want to compete with other sports we have to become the “people’s game” – it can’t just be this elitist sport.’ Currently the Six Nations unions hold the game’s power and will largely pick the new chairman with 18 of the 50 votes available. Leo believes World Rugby must become more diverse.

‘The England national team, for example, have done a good job of changing the face of the game,’ he said.

‘They’re very diverse now, and Eddie Jones has made a particular point of that.

‘We need to mix up the administration of the game too. More comfortable unions should be pushed to look at the bigger picture.

‘This will burst the bubble of people thinking about themselves.

‘If we can’t do it now after a global crisis, when can we?’

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