Rugby: World Rugby chairman candidate Agustin Pichot could spell positives for Pacific rugby, says Seilala Mapusua

Seilala Mapusua at last year's World Rugby awards.
Seilala Mapusua at last year's World Rugby awards. Photo credit: Getty

Pacific Rugby Players board member Seilala Mapusua has endorsed Agustin Pichot's bid for World Rugby's top job, with a couple of caveats.

On Sunday, the former Argentina international announced his intention to attempt to dethrone Bill Beaumont at the helm of the sport's international governing body.

A strong advocate for Pacifc Islands rugby, Mapusua believes the likes of Fiji, Tonga and Samoa could stand to benefit from Pichot's appointment as chairman.

"What it means for us Pacific players is, it's great to have somebody challenging the norm," Mapusua told Newshub. 

"We as an association will always support anyone who's going to make decisions and do things that benefit our players.

"It's good for the gander that Gus is making a play for chairman, but we'll wait to see what comes of it."

But there are some differences in opinion when it comes to national eligibility rules.

A former Pumas star, Pichot has advocated strongly to tighten the eligibility rules where players move to another country and qualify for their adopted home. 

But Mapusua - who played 28 tests for Samoa - believes tier one players should have the option of playing for tier two countries, a matter he says extends further than simply increasing the required time for naturalisation rules from three years to five.

"We are advocating for players to be able to move from tier one to tier two countries, as opposed to tier one to tier one.

"That will allow top players to go and play for their country of heritage and add value to development that way."

Pichot needs to ensure that emerging nations are helped develop further to strengthen the depth of the global game, Mapusua added.

"We want to see him deliver on whatever he's promising and deal with what's in the best interest of all rugby playing nations and not just the concentrated tier one nations.

"It's important that they're strong but also that there's a lot of resources focused on the smaller and merging tier two nations which will hopefully, over time, see a level playing field."

Pichot has also tabled the concept of a Nations Championship, which would be an annual competition between the top 12 teams from both hemispheres.

"[Pichot] has some awesome points about what he wants to do," Mapusua added.

"Our challenge to him, if he gets the role, is to deliver on those, and that's where the proof is in the pudding, to create a truly global game."