I am delighted to see Sir Bill’s re-election.

Sir Bill gave a pre-election promise (see footnote) of appointment of a “two person independent” review team to review suitable governance arrangements for WR for the future. Sir Bill will no doubt be looking to bring the global community together and statements to this effect, attributed to him, were well thought out.

That a “bone deep” re-think of how rugby union is best re-framed intellectually, and re-structured physically, across the globe for the future, cannot be argued. The Governance Review is urgent and must be, and be seen to be, independent.

It would seem sensible that the make-up of the two person independent review team be one from the southern hemisphere and one from the north.

Unity of purpose is essential now.

Sir Bill will have seen that there were voices down here (in New Zealand, SA and Australia) which spoke out against his re-election. Strategically I question those declarations; perhaps especially those attributed to NZ Rugby. They are having to back-track now. I am hopeful that Sir Bill will recognise the importance and value of putting all that public posturing by others to one side and make appointments which will silence those public protestations, yet not be seen as giving them any undeserved credence.

The review team would report to a Chair (called perhaps The Independent WR Governance Review). I put forward the view that to appoint a Chair from the UK or Europe would be seen as a nod in favour of the views of the powerful voices of the north. Instead Sir Bill could consider a demonstration of independence by appointing someone from the south. The review needs someone who is not, nor has been, in and around the inner circles of WR.

The Chair would need to be someone;

  • obviously independent;
  • with all the relevant experience and a reputation for even handedness;
  • with the connections and ability to open doors and secure well thought out views in the south as well as the north without being (or even being seen as) a mouthpiece for, or servant in disguise of, any one nation or collection of rugby nations;
  • who clearly will not be just a convenient advocate for, say, NZ Rugby with a pre-determined bias towards a southern hemisphere point of view;
  • having independent experience in governance and constitutional review processes and analysis;
  • experienced in independent commercial governance and constitutional review roles – including in, but ideally not limited to, sport;
  • experienced in ensuring differences of view are robustly tested; with a focus on finding solutions for challenging issues and colliding aspirations and views;
  • not afraid to ask the hard questions to the best advantage of, and for, the objectives Sir Bill has for his Governance Review.

What a mouth-watering opportunity to contemplate for a member of the Review team and Chair:

  • to take responsibility for garnering and gathering together all the good minds, passions, and strategic thinking of knowledgeable clear-thinking people, globally, through a genuine consultation process;
  • to slice out views that reflect self-interest if they do not otherwise withstand scrutiny;
  • to initiate new ideas, imagination, creative thinking into the mosaic;
  • to secure and understand the commercial imperatives operating for those who broadcast and support the game at every level, and from those who need bums on seats in stadia in every continent around the world.

Then armed with quality information from such a world-wide consultation and solicitation process (subjected during that process to robust examination) to submit it all to the harsh light of inquisition and analysis. And finally, to bring forward for Sir Bill and WR decision makers compelling, creative, pragmatic, supportable and fundable recommendations to shape the structures for the game and best position it for future global growth.

What an enticing and unique opportunity: to de-construct and reconstruct something which benefits from understanding and cherishing the past, to design something contemporary – but durable and forward thinking for the future.

Dompost 16 April 2020 reporting comments by Sir Bill Beaumont “Our aim is to have a more representative and diverse international federation that better serves the game, not one that is seen to serve only the ‘old guard’. To achieve our aim of a strong international federation with a clear vision, we are proposing a wide-ranging governance review led by two independently appointed people. All major rugby stakeholders will be consulted, as will experts from outside the game, to help bring in fresh ideas and perspective. We believe rugby is at the crossroads. If we work together there is an opportunity to make it a truly global sport played by more at the highest level and enjoyed by more at every level.”