Sir Clive Woodward backs Agustin Pichot's World Rugby chairman bid

Rugby World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward has backed Agustin Pichot's bid to challenge Sir Bill Beaumont for the game's top job.

Former Argentinian skipper Pichot will challenge Beaumont's control of World Rugby in next month's election.

The current vice-chairman of rugby's governing body announced his intentions on Monday (NZ time), calling for the game to use the COVID-19 pandemic as a wake-up call and an opportunity for "global realignment". 

Woodward, who masterminded England's only successful World Cup campaign in 2003, used social media to announce his support for the former Pumas halfback.

"Good luck Gus," Woodward tweeted. "I absolutely think the world of rugby has also to use this extraordinary moment in time to fundamentally change and become economically viable and truly a world game." 

Agustin Pichot
Agustin Pichot Photo credit: Photosport

Woodward joins former Samoan international Seilala Mapusua, who told Newshub that Pichot's vision for the game was far more inclusive than the current regime. 

The Pacific Rugby Players board member said: "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."

In his announcement, Pichot identified inclusivity as key to taking rugby to the next level.

"Women and men, we all fight for and believe in a fair, equal and more inclusive world. Do we? 

"If so, it is time to make these dreams a reality for our sport, rugby.

"It is time to think of a sport where professional and commercial income is becoming a true benefit for all, by empowering rugby’s growth around the world and by moving on from the time where those benefits were for just a few."

The 45-year-old added: "It is a critical time and a critical election. 

"The current crisis is an opportunity for the global realignment of our game. We cannot miss it.

"It is time to align our global calendar and demonstrate our strategic intent to attract the sustainable investment we need, or risk falling back to individual handouts and rants in the absence of a long-term vision for a global game. 

"It is time to change, to focus our attention, love and dedication to all unions and federations equally."

In January, Beaumont announced that he was standing for a second four-year term, with the French Rugby Federation president, Bernard Laporte, as his preferred vice-chairman, instead of Pichot.