World Rugby boss’ knighthood questioned by British critic

An English rugby critic says World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont should not have been knighted while the global game is mourning the deaths of young players.

Beaumont, a former England and British and Irish Lions captain and World Rugby’s boss since 2012, received a knighthood in the British New Year’s Honours list

Owen Slot, The Times’ rugby correspondent, said while Beaumont is “one of the most admired and respected men across the rugby landscape”, there could “hardly have been a more inopportune moment to bestow upon him any such honour”.

“Is it right to honour the man in the very top position in World Rugby in the very same month that a young French player died when playing the game that he is administering?,” Slot wrote.

“Nicolas Chauvin, the 19-year-old Stade Francais player, had his neck broken in a two-man tackle, causing cardiac arrest and brain damage. Beaumont would no doubt feel the pain of this tragedy terribly — as should any one of us involved in the promoting of the sport. Same thing when another 21-year-old French player died during a game in August and same again when the first of three 2018 tragedies in French rugby claimed the life of a 17-year-old when playing the game in May.

“After three tragedies in one rugby-playing country it is no time for bestowing honours on the people who run the game. Now, more than in any other period in the game’s history, is the time, instead, for brilliant, strident leadership. Now is not the time for congratulations; it is the time to rise to the challenge.

Slot said rugby “needs to be made safer”.

“It is a huge responsibility and it just so happens that the weight of it has been multiplied at the very time of Beaumont’s stewardship. This is rugby’s crisis and I am not yet persuaded that Beaumont is the man to solve it.”

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