- Fiji and Samoa unanimously elected onto Council after meeting new governance criteria
- Fiji and Samoa join Georgia, Romania and USA on expanded Council
- Burkina Faso and Lebanon welcomed as associate members of World Rugby
- World Rugby Chair hails historic day for rugby
World Rugby has welcomed Fiji and Samoa onto an expanded Council, while Burkina Faso and Lebanon were accepted as associate members on an historic day for the international federation.
With a new governance model paving the way for wider representation on World Rugby’s Council, the unions will take their place at the May 2019 annual meeting having successfully achieved the required good governance criteria as stipulated within the Bye Laws in line with governance reform launched in November 2015.
Fiji and Samoa follow Georgia, Romania and USA onto the expanded Council and will act as an inspiration for other unions aspiring to take a seat at Council with a clear and transparent pathway for all now operational.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont hailed the decision, recognising the enormous contribution that the Pacific Islands make to the global game.
“This is an historic day for World Rugby and the Pacific Islands, and a reflection of the importance and success of the transformational governance reforms made by this organisation and the unions.
“We are delighted to be welcoming Fiji and Samoa to Council, two unions who have contributed so much to the game. The Pacific Islands are unique, immersed in rugby heritage, and I know that the unions will bring excellent insights and make strong contributions on Council.
“This shows that the model is in place, the pathway is in place and the door is open to other unions who aspire to have a seat on Council. We encourage all unions to take inspiration from Fiji and Samoa, review their governance and strive to achieve the required criteria.
“World Rugby is committed to the sustainable growth of the sport set against a backdrop of strong governance, and we will continue to work with our unions to ensure that they have all the support to achieve and maintain the necessary criteria.”
Samoa Rugby Union Chair Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi welcomed the announcement, "Samoa Rugby Union is grateful for the trust and support from World Rugby to implement the agreed governance reforms over the last three years to enable Samoa Rugby Union to represent our interests at the highest level at World Rugby Council. Samoa's inclusion into World Rugby Council is a reflection of our contribution to the international game with the wide spread of our players contracted across the world."
Council also approved the recommendation of the Executive and Regional Committees to accept Burkina Faso and Lebanon as associate members of World Rugby having met the required associate member criteria. Both are growing, thriving unions who are making strides in their respective regions. There are now 123 national unions in membership of World Rugby.
Council also welcomed four new members in Cameron Clyne (Australia), Philip Orr (Ireland), Christina Flores (Rugby Americas North), Claudia Betancur (Sudamerica Rugby) and Suzanna Vecci (Italy). The Council now stands at 49 members, of whom 14 are women.
Council also elected Mark Alexander (South Africa) onto the World Rugby Executive Committee, replacing the seat vacated by Pat Whelan (Ireland), who stood down earlier this year.
Meanwhile, conditional sanctioning was granted for the Global Rapid Rugby tournament subject to approval from participating unions. The competition aims to further rugby’s spread across the Asia-Pacific area, providing high performance competition for emerging nations.