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Top Fijian official leaves World Rugby role amid allegations

April 21, 2020 GMT

A top Fijian official left his position on the World Rugby council and will not be seeking a place on the governing body’s executive committee in the upcoming elections following allegations of discriminatory conduct against him.

The Fiji Rugby Union is investigating allegations against its chairman, Francis Kean, which were made in British newspaper The Sunday Times, World Rugby said on Tuesday, and felt it was “in the best interests of the sport” that Kean was no longer part of the world governing body.

The move came after World Rugby contacted the FRU following the publication of the Sunday Times article at the weekend, in which the newspaper said it heard “graphic recordings” of Kean using violent and homophobic language when in charge of Fiji’s prison service.

“World Rugby takes all allegations of behaviour that is not in keeping with the sport’s strong and inclusive values and bylaws extremely seriously,” the body said.

The FRU said it “recognises the seriousness of the allegations,” but that they must be validated.

Kean was one of eight people standing for seven places on World Rugby’s executive committee, the main decision-making body in the sport. There are now only seven nominations ahead of the elections next month.

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The allegations against Kean indirectly embroiled World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont, who is seeking re-election and whose nomination was seconded by the Fijian union. Beaumont is battling Agustin Pichot for the most important position in the sport, with voting starting on April 27.

Kean’s nomination for a place on the executive committee had been supported by the French Rugby Federation, whose head is Bernard Laporte — Beaumont’s running partner to become World Rugby vice-chairman.

The Fijian union’s seat on World Rugby’s council will be filled by its chief executive, John O’Connor.

The union has yet to make an official comment.

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