World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont was awarded the title of ‘High Chief Tootoootumua Sir Bill Beaumont’ of the Village of Lepa in Samoa at a Chiefly bestowment ceremony in Aufaga on Tuesday.

The title is in recognition of services to rugby and relations with Samoa, who were accepted onto the World Rugby Council in November 2018.

Sir Bill’s trip to Samoa comes as part of an extensive travel itinerary that has seen him visit New Zealand, Fiji, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina in recent months, underlining his commitment to strengthening relationships and understanding the needs of unions.

During his stay in Samoa, Sir Bill was in meetings with the Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Fiame Naomi Mataafa to discuss Samoa’s presence on the global rugby stage.

While Sir Bill never had the opportunity to play against Samoa as a former England captain, his relationship with the country and the rugby community there is deep-rooted with the World Rugby Chairman saying it “holds a special place in my heart.”

“I am humbled and honoured to have been bestowed with the title of High Chief Tootoootumua Sir Bill Beaumont,” he said.

“As with all Pacific Island Nations, Samoa holds a special place in my heart and is very much ingrained within rugby’s rich global heritage, but also its future. I will honour this title through friendship and solidarity with the people of Samoa and by continuing to champion rugby development and growth within this great rugby nation and on the world stage.

“I enjoyed a very positive and productive meeting with the Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Fiame Naomi Mataafa. It is very clear that she is passionate about the sport, its ability to unite and inspire Samoans and to cement the nation’s place on the world stage. In particular, it was exciting to align on our commitment to develop opportunities for women in rugby and to hear ambitions of Rugby World Cup 2025 qualification.

“We also discussed the men’s sevens team’s resurgence, Moana Pasifika’s debut and the need for an aligned international men’s test calendar. World Rugby will continue to support the Pacific Islands and the Oceania region’s efforts to advance on the world stage, both in terms of financial and administrative support of high performance programmes, but also expertise to ensure a relevant, accessible and sustainable youth and community rugby environment.”