World Rugby has announced that Fiji and Samoa has been elected onto the board's expanded council after they met the new governance criteria.
The unions will take their place during the annual meeting in May next year having successfully achieved the required good governance criteria as stipulated within the Bye Laws in line with governance reform launched in November 2015.
Japan and Samoa will follow the likes of Georgia, Romania and USA and World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont believes the move will benefit the game in the Pacific Islands.
“This is an historic day for World Rugby and the Pacific Islands, and a reflection of the importance and success of the transformational governance reforms made by this organisation and the unions.
“We are delighted to be welcoming Fiji and Samoa to Council, two unions who have contributed so much to the game. The Pacific Islands are unique, immersed in rugby, and I know that the unions will bring excellent insights and make strong contributions on Council.
“This shows that the model is in place, the pathway is in place and the door is open to other unions who aspire to have a seat on Council. We encourage all unions to take inspiration from Fiji and Samoa, review their governance and strive to achieve the required criteria.
“World Rugby is committed to the sustainable growth of the sport set against a backdrop of strong governance, and we will continue to work with our unions to ensure that they have all the necessary support to achieve and maintain the necessary criteria.”
Council also approved the recommendation of the Executive and Regional Committees to accept Burkina Faso and Lebanon as associate members of World Rugby having met the required associate member criteria. Both are growing, thriving unions who are making strides in their respective regions. There are now 123 national unions in membership of World Rugby.
Council also welcomed four new members in Cameron Clyne (Australia), Philip Orr (Ireland), Christina Flores (Rugby Americas North), Claudia Betancur (Sudamerica Rugby) and Suzanna Vecci (Italy). The Council now stands at 49 members, of whom 14 are women.
Council also elected Mark Alexander (South Africa) onto the World Rugby Executive Committee, replacing the seat vacated by Pat Whelan (Ireland), who stood down earlier this year.