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Pichot pushes for Lions to tour Americas

Sam Warburton, (C) the Lions captain, Jack Nowell (L) and Rhys Webb acknowledge the Lions supporters after they draw the final test against New Zealand 15-15 and tie the 2017 series (by David Rogers/Getty Images)

World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot has said he will push for the British and Irish Lions to tour new destinations should he succeed in being elected as the new leader of rugby union’s world governing body.

Pichot will challenge incumbent World Rugby chairman, Bill Beaumont, at elections set for May 12 and is running with a manifesto of shaking up the sport. Speaking to the Daily Mail, the former Argentina international said he will seek talks with Lions officials if he is elected chairman.

He said: “People think I don’t like tradition, but I speak to Lions players like Brian O’Driscoll and it’s a great product. I love it. There is still room for the Lions. It is a traditional thing but we can still add a modern look to it.

“I would use the Lions on a more worldwide scale. I would like to see that brand travel even further. They would be very popular in North and South America but that’s a conversation to have with the CEO of the Lions.”

The Lions traditionally tour the southern hemisphere powerhouses of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. Last month it was announced that the Lions would not move the dates of their tour of South Africa next summer, despite the itinerary clashing with the rescheduled 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

It is reported by the Mail that Beaumont looks to have sealed 21 votes for next month’s election, with Pichot gaining 19 and another 11 yet to be decided. Pichot is said to have the backing of the Sanzaar unions of South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina, but he admitted his proposals for reform have fallen on deaf ears with Europe’s Six Nations unions.

He added: “I would like to talk to each individual union. I sent a personal note to every country and I haven’t had any replies from some of the CEOs.  I only received one email asking me about the future of the game from the Six Nations unions – that was Wales – and I think that’s poor. Every CEO should be responsible for learning what is best for the game, even if they don’t support you.”

Beaumont last week pledged to undertake a major governance review if he is re-elected next month, after former ally Pichot confirmed he will run against the Englishman.