—- Sir Bill Beaumont has called on rugby union to become more united than ever to work for sustainable growth in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic after being elected for a second term as World Rugby chairman.

Beaumont achieved a first-round simple but narrow majority of 28-23 over Agustín Pichot.

Standing unopposed, French rugby president Bernard Laporte was elected vice-chairman. A new Executive Committee was also confirmed.

The results will officially be confirmed at World Rugby’s annual meeting of Council on May 12 after which the new leadership’s four-year mandate will begin.

Both candidates agreed to an early announcement given the process concluded at first round stage and no further votes were required.

Beaumont promised, in partnership with Laporte, to deliver a mandate of progressive reform. This would include enhanced governance reform, an aligned and integrated approach to the global calendar, accelerated prioritisation of player welfare, injury-prevention and modified contact variants, accelerated promotion of the women’s game and sustainable investment the sport.

Work is progressing on a global women’s 15s competition and a global men’s emerging nations 15s competition that, alongside a record number of fixtures against top nations, targets union competition needs, provides opportunity for all, enhances Rugby World Cup performance and delivers an annual champion.

Beaumont said: “Over the last four years we have achieved a lot, but we are at half-time and need to press on in the second half. I now have a clear mandate to work with Bernard to implement progressive, sustainable change.

“As an organisation, we must lead, be transparent, accountable and continue to serve for all. We must be united in our drive to make this great sport even better, simpler, safer and more accessible. We must listen to players, fans, competitions, our unions and regions, and take decisions that are in the best interests of all with our strong values to the fore.

“We have work to do. We are tackling COVID-19 and must implement an appropriate return-to-rugby strategy that prioritises player welfare, while optimising any opportunity to return to international rugby this year in full collaboration with club competitions for the good of players, fans and the overall financial health of the sport.

“I am determined to ensure that the spirit of unity and solidarity that has characterised our work in response to an unprecedented global COVID-19 pandemic, is the cornerstone of a new approach that will deliver a stronger, more sustainable game when we emerge with new enthusiasm, a renewed purpose and an exciting future.”

The new Executive Committee will comprise: Sir Bill Beaumont (Chairman), Bernard Laporte (Vice-Chairman), Brett Gosper (Chief Executive), Angela Ruggiero (Independent), Lord Mervyn Davies (Independent); Mark Alexander (South African Rugby Union), Khaled Babbou (Rugby Africa), Bart Campbell (New Zealand Rugby), Gareth Davies (Welsh Rugby Union), John Jeffrey (Scottish Rugby), Bob Latham (USA Rugby) and Brett Robinson (Rugby Australia).