The British legend opens up to El Deportivo about his feelings after a continental trip that took him to Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. He says he has big plans for South America and is optimistic about its development.
On an express trip, without too much promotion or noise, Bill Beaumont (70), the president of the organization that governs world rugby, landed in Santiago. He got to know the La Reina High Performance Center, shared with Cristian Rudloff, the president of the Chilean Federation, and saw firsthand the work of the national teams. All this less than a year from the World Cup which will count Los Cóndores as a participating team.
Back in the UK and after pleasant experiences in Santiago, Buenos Aires and Montevideo, the British legend answers a questionnaire from El Deportivo. Talk about everything.
He was traveling in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. How did you see rugby on this side of the continent?
South America is an incredible region, with incredible people and a true and unique passion for rugby. If you look at the growth of the discipline here, for both men and women, it’s probably the fastest growing region in the world. It is the result of the hard work of the South American rugby union. In the future, with the growth of SLAR and other regional competitions, I think we will see more countries able to compete globally, which will lead to more young people choosing rugby.
Are there many differences with Europe in the organization?
Rugby is steeped in culture and each region has its own culture and personality, but the values of passion, dedication, teamwork, solidarity and integrity transcend cultures, communities and individuals. There are differences, but in the end the result is the same: a passionate community dedicated to rugby. I was impressed by what I saw and heard in Chile.
Do you project Chile as a top team if you keep working the same way?
From what I saw during my visit to the federation and the top-flight centre, I have no doubt that rugby in Chile will continue to develop. It’s very exciting to see this happening at a time of such rapid growth. This is why we need countries like Chile, Uruguay, Brazil and Colombia to have regular access to competitive channels that allow them to maintain sustainable and relevant growth. That’s what we discussed.
Is there a plan to empower the continent?
Our mission is to grow the rugby family globally. To do this, we seek out new markets, new nations and new opportunities that allow the sport to grow. It’s no secret that 80% of our turnover comes from two markets: France and the United Kingdom. It’s not sustainable. By developing and supporting new markets, we can increase revenue for everyone and create a more competitive and sustainable game globally. Chile, like the rest of South America, is at the center of these high performance and growth plans.
For World Rugby, is Chile more valuable today than four years ago?
Chile has always been important to World Rugby. Beyond the historic qualification of the men’s team for the World Cup and the organization of the Sevens Challenger Series, there is enormous potential here to inspire more young people to take up rugby. This means training trained technicians, coaches, educators and referees; bringing rugby into schools and making it more accessible through channels and digital broadcasts. By partnering with Chile and South America Rugby, that’s what we plan to do and that’s why I visited the federation.
Have you seen the Condors play? What catches your attention in the team?
Yeah, I saw them in the Americas playoffs. They were awesome. As a former second line, I noticed that the forwards handled the first leg conditions in Santiago very well. Very calm and assertive. They also have nice backs. I think the Condors will be the crowd favorites at the 2023 World Cup.
There is one year left for this World Cup, the expectation is great…
France 2023 will be a very special and unprecedented celebration of the 200th anniversary of rugby. Our goal is to make this the most followed, most watched, most digitally engaged and socially and lastingly impactful World Cup. But more than that, we want it to be fun, accessible, engaging and relevant to audiences in France and around the world. That’s why we continually strive to make the sport the best it can be to play and watch. With Chile qualifying for the first time, it will also be historic and the team will be able to count on a lot of support and global exposure. It’s fantastic to have three South American teams in the Rugby World Cup.
Is it possible that South America will host a World XV in the future?
It would be great if that happened. We are already breaking new ground with the United States hosting the 2031 and 2033 Men’s and Women’s World Cups, so why not? Top priorities for South America are to increase visibility and engagement with rugby, as well as focus on competition structures.
What does Chile need to improve for this?
It is very clear that Chile’s ambitions are achievable. For me, the important thing is to always strive to be better in all aspects. Small incremental changes can pay off big. Women also represent a great opportunity for the growth of rugby in general. We will also do our part by working with the union and South America Rugby to foster growth.
In Chile, women’s rugby is not fully consolidated. Do you have a plan to boost women’s rugby?
We have launched a reimagined Strategic Plan for Women in Rugby and seek to take a strategic partnership approach by working with unions to understand their needs, challenges and opportunities and help implement plans to drive growth. There is no doubt that women’s rugby, on and off the pitch, represents the greatest opportunity for growth for the sport as a whole. We are also launching WXV next year.
Follow at El Deportivo:
I’m Todderic Kirkman, a journalist and author for athletistic. I specialize in covering all news related to sports, ranging from basketball to football and everything in between. With over 10 years of experience in the industry, I have become an invaluable asset to my team. My ambition is to bring the most up-to-date information on sports topics around the world.