World Rugby launch investigation into Fiji chairman over homophobia allegations

World Rugby are investigating the chairman of the Fiji Rugby Union following accusations of homophobia and discrimination.

A Sunday Times report revealed allegations of homophobia against Fiji chairman Ratu Vilikesa Bulewa Francis Kean, as well as his conviction for manslaughter in 2007, which has left the former head of the Fijian Navy under pressure to stand down.

The revelations could also spell trouble for World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont, whose bid for re-election has been backed by the FRU

Kean is also looking to secure a position on World Rugby’s executive committee, but is now expected to withdraw.

The Sunday Times report claims to have heard a recording of a Kean dating back to 2016, from his time in charge of the prison service, during which he uses violent and homophobic language.

World Rugby have responded to that report by confirming they will investigate the claims.

“World Rugby notes allegations in the UK Sunday Times about Fiji Rugby Union chairman Ratu Vilikesa Bulewa Francis Kean and takes the nature of these allegations extremely seriously,” a World Rugby statement said.

“Rugby is a sport built on strong and inclusive values and World Rugby does not in any way condone abusive or discriminatory behaviour as enshrined within its bye-laws.

“It would be inappropriate to comment further until we have discussed the matter fully with the Fiji Rugby Union and have established all the facts.”

Kean currently represents Fiji on the World Rugby council.

While the allegations against Kean could disrupt Beaumont’s bid for re-election, World Rugby stressed that Beaumont’s nomination came from the FRU, rather than from Kean individually.

The election result is set to be confirmed on May 12 at a World Rugby council meeting.