A working group set up to conduct a governance review of World Rugby has released its findings ©Getty Images

A working group set up to conduct a review of the governance of World Rugby has released its findings.

The review was sanctioned by World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont with the objective of "strengthening the effectiveness and agility of World Rugby’s governance structures."

Improved player and female representation and the introduction of ethics charters and fit and proper persons tests for elected individuals were among the recommendations given by the group, which comprised independent experts as well as union and player representatives from a variety of rugby nations.

The seven recommendations were issued as part of the interim report with the first calling for the establishment of an ethics and conduct charter for elected officials and the second calling for the introduction of a fit and proper persons test for members of the World Rugby Council and all Executive and Standing Committees.

Two further recommendations were related to committee representation, with one call for at least 40 per cent female representation with a focus on promoting female leaders in the sport and a second calling for player representation through all the committees to ensure “player-centric decision-making.”

Other recommendations are for a robust conflict of interest management process designed to protect the "integrity and effectiveness of decision-making", a focus on diversity, skillset, independence, capability and geographical representation when forming committees and for Council meetings to take place twice a year – once in person and once remotely.

In total, 64 unions and six regions and international rugby players completed a questionnaire and submitted comments to the working group, which is being led by British Olympic Association chairman Sir Hugh Robertson.

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont welcomed the interim report and said he believed the organisation was heading in an
World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont welcomed the interim report and said he believed the organisation was heading in an "encouraging direction" ©Getty Images

"I welcome the interim report of the governance working group and its seven initial recommendations, and would like to thank the independent chair Sir Hugh Robertson for his excellent leadership in progressing important work which will provide a clear and comprehensive pathway for progressive reform of governance within World Rugby for the betterment of all," said Sir Bill.

"We are undertaking this important and necessary process with the ambition of implementing and living the best possible standards of good governance, furthering the effectiveness and diversity of our structures, ensuring they reflect the values and universality of the game.

"Our performance is best measured by actions, not just words. We are heading in a very encouraging direction – that enables us to best achieve our purpose of growing the sport worldwide by making it more relevant and accessible.

"All of the governance practices, processes and procedures we implement must be implemented meaningfully with that purpose in mind.

"This is and will continue to be an independent-led process and I would like to thank the unions, regions and international rugby players for their feedback and submissions."

The working group is continuing to analyse World Rugby’s current governance model with the next part of its research focusing on the election and composition of the Executive Committee, the definition and classification of unions and further diversity and inclusion strategies.

The review was launched in June 2020 and came after World Rugby was placed in the top group in the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations’ third International Federation governance report.

World Rugby was one of six federations, out of a total of 33 examined, that was put into the top group.

The working group’s next update is scheduled to be delivered at the World Rugby Council Annual Meeting, due to be held in May 2021.