Pacific Rugby Player Welfare questions World Rugby

Dan Leo, director of Pacific Rugby Player Welfare (PRPW), has unleashed on World Rugby for not immediately dismissing the nomination of Ratu Kean to join the governing body’s executive committee.

In a letter penned on behalf of PRPW, Leo has asked ‘why does World Rugby have some of the most elaborate and exhaustive eligibility checks for those who play the game but apparently no checks for someone wanting to run the game?’

Kean, whose name was put forward by the Fiji Rugby Union and whose nomination was seconded by the Fédération Française de Rugby (FFR), was convicted of manslaughter in 2006 – but Leo explains that his crimes and conduct are far worse than initially reported.

“If the values of World Rugby really are integrity, respect, solidarity, passion and discipline, all of this – and the claim to have been building character since 1823 – will be utterly debased if Kean is elected to the Exco,” Leo says in the letter.

“You may have thought as Pacific Islanders, we would fall in line in support of Kean. But it is extraordinary to anyone involved in the game in the Pacific that Kean is even on the ballot. His time in office has become a byword for intimidation, vindictiveness, corruption and self-dealing, nepotism, and the threat and realisation of violence. This is all conducted in plain sight.”

The letter goes on to further outline the many examples of Kean’s above behaviour as well as how the convicted killer has managed to avoid any real retribution for his crimes.

“If Kean was up for elected office at any tier of the FIFA membership the violent nature of his criminal record would disqualify him automatically,” Leo says. “But it appears for the game of rugby there is no barrier to Kean.”

Leo concludes his letter with a plea to World Rugby: “I ask you to honour the memory of those in the game who came before us and to uphold those timeless values of integrity, respect, solidarity, passion and discipline that we all wish to mean something so that we can pass them on to the next generation.”

While Leo and the PRPA have always been open with their suggestions and qualms with the state of the game, the letter is a significant, immediate call-to-action aimed at World Rugby, demanding critical action.

Even if Kean’s crimes were limited to that which he has been convicted for, World Rugby should never have even considered his nomination, but it appears that the widely known information only scrapes the surface of his behaviour.

The nomination also puts the Fédération Française de Rugby under the spotlight for seconding Kean’s name being put forward.

Incumbent chairman Bill Beaumont is facing off with his second-in-command, Agustin Pichot, for the head role on the council and has selected FFR’s Bernard Laporte as his running mate.

While many would have expected Fiji to side with Pichot, who has tried to bring a World Rugby Sevens Series tournament to Fiji and pushed for the island nation’s inclusion in the Rugby Championship, the Fiji Rugby Union have instead seconded Beaumont’s nomination.

The fact that the FFR have backed Kean’s inclusion on the council shows that there’s plenty of mutual backscratching taking place, which Leo hinted at in his letter.

I make no comment about why the Fédération Française de Rugby would support Kean’s nomination to Exco,” Leo said. “Or why the current chairman would allow his nomination to be seconded by the Fiji Rugby Union, which the man known in his own country as ‘Killer Kean’ runs in the manner of an executive chairman.”

World Rugby have stated that they will be investigating Kean before the May 12 vote but questions must be asked why his nomination ever made is a far as it has, given his unsuitability for the executive committee.