Rugby: Pacific Islands vote could swing World Rugby election

As Agustin Pichot and Bill Beaumont enter their final week of campaigning for chairman of World Rugby, the Pacific Islands could hold the key.

For the first time in history, the position is being contested and the minnows could have a defining role in the outcome.

Out of the 26 votes required for re-election, Beaumont will likely get most - if not all - of the 22 votes from European nations.

He would only need four more to secure his second term in charge, which is the exact number of combined votes the Pacific Island nations - two for each of Fiji, Samoa, Oceania - have. 

"I understand all of those four votes are probably in favour of the Beaumont regime at the moment," said Daniel Leo, player welfare manager for European-based Pacific players.

Maybe the most telling reason for that is the fact Fiji has backed Beaumont's nomination.

Rather than follow their neighbours' lead, Fiji has aligned itself with the richest nations of World Rugby.

Leo doesn't begrudge that, but it's not conducive to giving Tier Two nations a greater voice, which is exactly what Pichot wants.

"You cannot sustain the game with only two markets and the power only coming from one side," said Pichot. "Because if not, you'll never change anything and we'll stay the same."

Leo feels joining forces with the southern hemisphere unions would be more beneficial to growing the game in the islands, but SANZAAR competitions need to buy in.

One of the ways he sees Samoa and Tonga not voting with Fiji is by relaxing player eligibility rules, which only Beaumont has promised. 

It's the old guard's attempt to prioritise the smaller nations.

"I think they've got to look at the big picture now or the game is going to deteriorate and go backwards," Sir Graham Henry told Newshub.

And how that change impacts the islands could hold the key to becoming chairman of World Rugby in seven days' time.

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