Fiji chairman steps down from World Rugby Council amid discrimination allegations

The Fiji Rugby Union chairman has stood down from the World Rugby Council following allegations published in the Sunday Times. Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Fiji Rugby Union chairman Francis Kean has stepped down from the World Rugby Council and withdrawn his nomination for the body's Executive Committee after allegations of discrimination were published by The Sunday Times, it was announced on Tuesday.

"World Rugby notes the Fiji Rugby Union's decision to stand down Fiji Rugby Union Chairman Ratu Vilikesa Bulewa Francis Kean from the World Rugby Council," the global body said in a statement.

"World Rugby takes all allegations of behaviour that is not in keeping with the sport's strong and inclusive values and bye-laws extremely seriously.

"While it is important to stress that any allegations must be validated, following dialogue with World Rugby, the Fiji Rugby Union recognises the seriousness of the allegations made and the need for them to be fully investigated, and that it is in the best interests of the sport that Mr Kean steps down from the Council and his Executive Committee candidature be withdrawn."

Fiji's union said it was in the "best interests of the sport" that Kean stepped down until the allegations were validated and confirmed its CEO John O'Connor would take his place on the Council.

The number of nominations for the Executive Committee have now come down to seven candidates for seven seats and they will be confirmed at the annual meeting on May 12.

The election of the World Rugby chairman will also be decided at the meeting. Incumbent Bill Beaumont, whose nomination was seconded by the FRU, is running against former Argentina international Agustin Pichot.