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World Rugby Removes Nomination Of Convicted Killer To Exec Committee

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World Rugby Removes Nomination Of Convicted Killer To Exec Committee

World Rugby struggles with a PR black eye.

World Rugby has announced that Fiji Rugby Union Chairman Ratu Vilikesa Bulewa Francis Kean has had his nomination to the World Rugby Executive Committee rescinded following allegations that he killed someone.

The Fiji Rugby Union decided to remove Kean's candidacy after a Sunday Times article revealed that he had been convicted of manslaughter in 2007. 

"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," said World Rugby's official statement.

It was a black eye to Sir Bill Beaumont's campaign to serve another term as World Rugby Chairman, as Kean was one of his supporters.

Kean, who is the brother-in-law of Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, has served as the head of Fiji's navy, and ;ater the head of the Fijian prison service. In 2007 he was convicted of manslaughter after he reportedly killed a man at the wedding of Bainarama's daughter.

He has also been accused of "rampant homophobia" according to the Times.

All of this is mostly based on an Amnesty International report from 2016 that outlined Kean's offense. 

From the report: "In December 2006, Francis Kean beat John Whippy to death at a wedding. He was initially charged with murder, but pleaded guilty to manslaughter. The court, in sentencing Kean, found there were aggravating factors because Kean punched the victim more than once, including after he was lying on the ground."

He served 18 months and returned to his job as commander of the Fijian Navy after release. 

The report also outlined how Kean supported abusing prisoners physically using whips, chains, stoning, and worse after he was appointed head of the Fijian prison system.

See the Amnest International report here (Kean's entry begins on Page 27)>>

Kean's career wasn't derailed as a result of his killing Whippy, and while the offense was certainly know, it didn't seem to stop him from almost getting a seat on the World Rugby Executive Committee. Only a news article did that. A report from Baron's also outlines how former Samoa national team captain Dan Leo, who is now chief executive of Pacific Rugby Players Welfare, published an open letter critical of Kean.

In it, he said: "You may have thought as Pacific Islanders, we would fall in line in support of Kean. But it is extraordinary to anyone involved in the game in the Pacific that Kean is even on the ballot.

Leo also claimed that Kean travels on a diplomatic passport with a name on it that is different from the name he used when he went to prison.

The Fiji Rugby Union have confirmed that their seat on the World Rugby Council will be filled by union CEO John O’Connor.

There are now seven nominations for seven seats on the World Rugby Executive Committee, which will be confirmed at the 2020 Annual Meeting of the World Rugby Council, held by teleconference on 12 May. 

This is not a good look for World Rugby, as it seems to indicate that even the most cursory vetting is beyong them.