Pacific Rugby Player Welfare and World Rugby have continued their war of words, amplified by the publication of the Veilomani report.
PRPW have responded to World Rugby’s claims that the report harbours ‘unsubstantiated and erroneous’ findings.
Published on Wednesday and submitted to Sir Hugh Robertson, who is leading the review in World Rugby’s governance, the Veilomani report had highlighted possible wrongdoing in the recent World Rugby elections and accuses the body of taking a weak stance on Francis Kean’s exit at Fiji Rugby Union.
PRPW have been critical of World Rugby’s governance after Kean was extracted from the World Rugby Council and ‘rotated out’ from his position as FRU chairman amid allegations of human rights breaches when in charge of Fiji’s prison service.
World Rugby have confirmed they will be investigating Francis Kean and the FRU, as announced in May.
And after the Veilomani report resurfaced an article by L’Equipe which claims Beaumont and FFR president Bernard Laporte, World Rugby vice-chairman, pledged to take France to play in Fiji in return for their back in the elections, World Rugby hit back.
The governing body said it only recognises International Rugby Players as the global representative body for players ‘including those within the Pacific Islands’.
In response, PRPW stuck by their role to serve a purpose for the betterment of Pacific Island rugby and its players.
A statement read: “PRPW are an independent player welfare organisation. The player organisations that World Rugby have stipulated they will only deal with in this governance review are largely if not exclusively dependent on World Rugby for their funding.
“If these groups have spoken out about the signiﬁcant and longstanding structural issues in the world game addressed in the Veilomani Report, that is not clear in any online search. Even when these issues deal directly with their members’ welfare, such as Rugby World Cup scheduling.
“Clearly they face a conﬂict of interest between speaking up about the state of the game as run by World Rugby and jeopardising their source of funding as provided by World Rugby.
“If World Rugby insist on hearing only the views of those player organisations that they fund and therefore effectively control that is a sad indictment of how they envisage an independent-led governance review should operate. It highlights their lack of self-awareness about how poorly served the game’s stakeholders are by the lack of fair play and equality for all in today’s World Rugby status quo.
“PRPW does not consider it necessary to be recognised formally, nor to be funded, by World Rugby in order to submit its concerns to the independent-led review.”
Furthermore, PRPW expressed its disappointment that World Rugby had not addressed the severity of the accusations facing Francis Kean, and endorsing the FRU statement which gives no mention of them.
“PRPW are disappointed that World Rugby has given credibility to Fiji Rugby’s statement that Kean has been ‘rotated out from the Fiji Rugby Board as per the Fiji Rugby Constitution’,” the PRPW statement added.
“World Rugby has not taken the opportunity to publicly condemn the alleged actions of Kean and by endorsing the FRU statement on the reasons for his departure, it has done the exact opposite.
“World Rugby does great disservice to its stakeholders and its own reputation by giving Kean the political cover necessary to fictionalise the story of his departure and allow him to avoid the scrutiny of his record which so many people, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and multiple NGOs in Fiji, have demanded.
“Nonetheless, PRPW asks that World Rugby confirms the status of its promised investigation of Kean and the multiple accusations made against him.
“PRPW thus reiterates its commitment to the Veilomani Report and hopes that the working group receives it in the way it was intended – in the spirit of working together and not as opponents, but as critical friends.”