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BOA’s Robertson to lead World Rugby governance review

British Olympic Association chairman Hugh Robertson (by Kyodo News Stills via Getty Images)

World Rugby has launched an independently-led governance review which will seek to enhance gender balance, diversity and player representation within its organisation, amongst other measures.

The review will be chaired by Sir Hugh Robertson, chairman of the British Olympic Association and former UK Sports Minister. The process aims to build on the foundations of a similar review conducted in 2015, which delivered wider union representation and gender inclusion on the international federation’s supreme decision-making body, the Council.

Robertson will chair a game-wide representative Working Group comprising of independent experts, players and representatives from emerging and established rugby nations, with a broad range of experience and expertise.

The Group will review and analyse the effectiveness of the present governance model in line with the terms of reference approved by the World Rugby Council and Executive Committee. Key focus areas also include suitability, definition and naming of emerging nations/established nations groups and the introduction of a fit and proper person test for elected Council members.

The latter issue came to light ahead of last month’s World Rugby elections as Fiji Rugby Union chairman, Francis Kean, resigned from the Council amid accusations of homophobia and discrimination. World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont pledged to undertake a review prior to his re-election.

In launching the review, Beaumont said: “In our manifesto, (vice-chairman) Bernard Laporte and I made a promise to undertake a governance review to ensure World Rugby is agile in its thinking and decision-making and our structures further reflect the diversity and values of our game.

“This is more important now than ever, and I would like to thank Sir Hugh Robertson for agreeing to lead this process as well as the experienced, independent experts who will be part of this Working Group. As our game continues to grow and we welcome new playing nations, it is imperative our structures and leadership reflect our ambitions and the universality of the game.”

World Rugby was this week placed in the top group in the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations’ (ASOIF) third International Federation Governance report. Of 33 international federations assessed by the ASOIF Governance Taskforce only six sit within this group.

The Working Group consists of independent members (Robertson, Sir Peter Cosgrove and Angela Ruggiero), northern unions (Laporte – French Rugby Federation president and Martyn Philips – Welsh Rugby Union chief executive), southern unions (Mark Alexander – SA Rugby president and Marcelo Rodriguez – Argentine Rugby Union president), regions (Cristina Flores – Rugby Americas North and Cathy Wong – Oceania Rugby), emerging nations (Alin Petrache – Romanian Rugby Federation president), player representatives (Omar Hassanein – International Rugby Players chief executive and Safi N’Diaye – France international) and World Rugby (Beaumont and Brett Gosper – chief executive).

It is anticipated that the review findings will be presented to the World Rugby Council later this year.