By Duncan Mackay

International Rugby_Board_logoOctober 19 - The International Rugby Board Council (IRB) today decided to defer the election of the chairman, in which England's Bill Beaumont was standing against France's Bernand Lapasset, until December.

An election must now be held before January 1, 2012, when the current mandate of Lapasset as chairman and Beaumont as vice-chairman, expires. 

"This decision was taken after a resolution was passed to defer the vote until after the completion of Rugby World Cup 2011," the IRB said in a statement.

"Both candidates [Lapasset and Beaumont} and Council were in agreement that in future the election of chairman should not take place during Rugby World Cup but should take place at the IRB Annual Meeting of Council in the year following rugby's showcase tournament. "

The election, which had been due to be held in Auckland, today, has been one of the most keenly fought in the sport's history with the outcome too close to call.

The balance of power was set to be held among the sport's smaller nations with New Zealand and Australian understood to be backing the former England captain Beaumont on the basis of his promises to reform the IRB's commercial model, including World Cups.

It is thought Lapasset based his manifesto heavily around influencing the growth of the global game over the last four years, specifically having driven the successful campaign to reinstate rugby into the Olympics programme.

For the first time, sevens will be part of the Olympics in Rio in 2016, a campaign that was a massive trumph for Lapasset. 

Beaumont, meanwhile, was trying to take advantage of Lapasset's reluctance to reconsider the Rugby World Cup's commercial model.

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