IRB hit by call for World Cup re-vote

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The International Rugby Board has been accused of abusing its powers when New Zealand was elected to host the 2011 Rugby World Cup by a secret ballot in Dublin last November.

A letter to the IRB chairman, Dr Syd Millar, from the Asian Rugby Football Union has called for a re-vote "in an open and transparent way" by 31 March as the secret ballot was unconstitutional. If the IRB fails to hold a re-vote the letter suggests that the ARFU will look at remedies available to it under English or European law.

The IRB claimed that the letter did not have official backing from the ARFU. That was dismissed yesterday by Quentin Smith, a senior partner with Addleshaw Goddard, the solicitors acting for the ARFU.

"It is outrageous that the IRB is trying to avoid the issue by throwing up a smoke screen," said Smith. "Technically - constitutionally - it requires just one member union, it could be anyone, anywhere, to raise the issue and seek legal redress for it to be investigated."

An IRB spokesman said: "Everyone knew what the voting procedure would be well in advance and we received no correspondence objecting to a secret ballot."

The ARFU contends that a secret ballot is in contravention of the IRB constitution and that such a "flawed voting procedure" enables "representatives of member unions... to cast their votes without reference to the mandate of their respective unions"

The letter also suggests that: "Inducements could be given with impunity to individual Council members to vote for a particular candidate without the Council member being accountable to anyone for his vote."