World Rugby has labelled suggestions of misconduct in the election which saw Sir Bill Beaumont win a second term as chairman "unsubstantiated and erroneous".
Pacific Rugby Players Welfare (PRPW), a non-profit pressure group which serves the interest of players with Pacific Island heritage, today released the Veilomani Report - a 59-page dossier it claims highlights "glaring deficiencies in World Rugby’s governance".
The recent World Rugby election is one of the areas to come under scrutiny, with the report detailing claims made by French newspaper L'Équipe that the French Rugby Federation agreed to play matches against Fiji and host training camps for its teams if the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) voted for the ticket of Sir Bill and Bernard Laporte - FFR President - as vice-chairman.
Sir Bill won the election by a margin of 28 votes to 23, although would have lost if any Tier 1 union - those from the Six Nations and Rugby Championship - had instead backed rival Agustín Pichot, as they each had three votes.
Ballots were not made public, but many unions did declare public support for one of the candidates and the FRU is believed to have backed Sir Bill.
It had seconded his nomination for re-election.
Pacific Rugby Players Welfare today publishes the Veilomani Report, our recommendations to end glaring deficiencies in World Rugby’s governance.https://t.co/a7k08UFaC3— PacificRugbyWelfare (@pacificwelfare) July 22, 2020
The Veilomani Report "submits that this alleged agreement may amount to bribery and that it suggests that the election was deliberately manipulated", calling for World Rugby to appoint a disciplinary officer to investigate, but the global governing body has rejected the call.
"World Rugby strongly refutes unsubstantiated and erroneous claims made by Pacific Rugby Players Welfare and their CEO Dan Leo regarding voting influence within the international federation’s recent election process and other governance matters," read a World Rugby statement.
"World Rugby is completely satisfied that the 2020 chairperson election was undertaken in accordance with a robust process with Sir Bill Beaumont elected in a fair and appropriate manner.
"World Rugby is an advocate of the promotion of best-practice governance structures in sport as evidenced by the recently published ASOIF [Association of Summer Olympic International Federations] report on international federation governance which has independently reviewed World Rugby’s governance and ranked World Rugby as a top-performing federation.
"Reflecting this commitment, World Rugby continually reviews its decision-making structures and is currently undertaking a governance review which is being independently chaired by Sir Hugh Robertson and features player representatives appointed by International Rugby Players on the working group."
"The review scope includes examining criteria for a fit and proper person test for elected members.
"Furthermore, World Rugby only recognises International Rugby Players as the global representative body for players.
"Within its structures, players from the Pacific Islands are represented via Pacific Rugby Players."
PRPW and chief executive Leo have been very critical of World Rugby, especially over its handling of the Ratu Vilikesa Bulewa Francis Kean affair.
Kean, previously convicted of manslaughter, was standing for election to the World Rugby Executive Committee before he withdrew after allegations of homophobia and discrimination emerged.
In the report's summary, PRPW calls for World Rugby to give a public update on its investigation into Kean - who was on the World Rugby Council before resigning - and consider what governance lessons can be learnt.
It also calls for World Rugby to "commission a fully independent governance review" and publish its findings, saying that the existing governance review is not sufficient as it is only independent-led.
The 14-person working group led by Sir Hugh contains only two other independent members - Sir Peter Cosgrove and Angela Ruggiero - and includes both Sir Bill and Laporte.
"In summary, PRPW is deeply concerned about a range of governance issues at World Rugby," stated the Veilomani Report.
"It submits that there is a need for wide-ranging reform in order to bring the organisation into line with modern standards of sports governance.
"In particular, there is a need to review the way in which Tier 2 Unions are prejudiced by World Rugby’s structures and processes."