Fiji Rugby Union chairman Francis Kean has resigned from the world body's council, amid allegations of homophobia and discrimination.
Kean, a key supporter of World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont and his re-election campaign, has also been withdrawn from the upcoming elections for a place on the organisation's executive committee.
The mounting allegations against Kean also include a 2007 manslaughter conviction and the 2015 suicide of a New Zealand women living in Fiji, whom Kean was said to have been bullying.
A damning open letter, sent to World Rugby by Pacific Island Players Welfare chief executive Dan Leo, included a litany of claims against Kean.
"If the values of World Rugby really are integrity, respect, solidarity, passion and discipline, all of this - and the claim to have been building character since 1823 - will be utterly debased, if Kean is elected to the [executive committee]," Leo wrote.
World Rugby pledged to investigate the allegations against Kean, but initially indicated it would not interfere with the FRU's choice of a council representative.
But The Guardian reports Beaumont put significant pressure on FRU to remove Kean from his position.
"While it is important to stress that any allegations must be validated, following dialogue with World Rugby, the Fiji Rugby Union recognises the seriousness of the allegations made and the need for them to be fully investigated," said World Rugby.
"It is in the best interests of the sport that Mr Kean steps down from the council and his executive committee candidature be withdrawn.”
Kean's resignation could hurt Beaumont's bid for re-election, with Fiji seconding his nomination last week.
Furthermore, Kean's executive committee bid was backed by French Rugby Federation president Bernard Laporte, who is understood to be Beaumont's choice for vice-chairman.
Voting is scheduled for later this week, with former Argentina captain Agustin Pichot opposing Beaumont.
The results aren't scheduled to be released until May 12.