Sir Bill Beaumont exploring loophole that would allow Manu Tuilagi to play for Samoa

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont is exploring a loophole that would allow players to appear for more than one country as he attempts to hit back in his election bid for a second-term.

The campaign between Beaumont, 68, and rival Agustin Pichot, 45, is expected to go down to the wire, with Beaumont garnering the support of the Six Nations and Pichot understood to be favoured by major nations in the southern hemisphere.

There are 11 remaining votes still to be won with Beaumont being forced to regroup earlier this week after criticism from Sir Clive Woodward, who implied that rugby could benefit from the perspective of a younger generation.

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“You could also work out a criteria to boost the Pacific Islands,” Beaumont said of a new law that would allow players to switch allegiance towards the end of their careers. “Charles Piutau could return to play for Tonga after a four-year stand-down.

“Semesa Rokoduguni, the Tuilagis, the Vunipolas who could all qualify for the likes of Fiji, Samoa, Tonga.

“When they’re coming to the end of their years they might fancy one last hoorah with those countries.”

Beaumont previously admitted there might not be any more international rugby played in 2020 and uncertainty remains over when domestic sport can resume.

“That is a distinct possibility,” Beaumont said. “The pressures on the unions are getting greater and greater.”

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