You are here
USA Rugby confirmed the appointment of World Rugby vice chairman and Rugby Americas president Agustin Pichot to its board of directors Friday. He represents World Rugby’s interests on the board, as USA Rugby’s creditor.
World Rugby’s seat on the board was part of the deal for World Rugby to financially back July’s Rugby World Cup Sevens, which lost in the range of $1.7-2.4 million. World Rugby nominated Pichot for the seat, and the current five-member board of chair Barbara O’Brien, Congress representative Jeremiah Johnson, transitional member Paul Santinelli and international athletes Todd Clever and Phaidra Knight approved.
The final hurdle was Congress ratification. By a count of 37 for, three against and six abstentions, Pichot was confirmed as the sixth member of the board.
There are still three more seats left. One is newly earmarked for a second Congress representative. The other two are to be filled by at-large candidates. There is a potential fourth seat open, as it’s unclear if Santinelli will continue on – the transitional seat was added to temporarily fill the the void left by an exodus following the collapse of Rugby International Marketing.
The next Congress meeting is set for the end of September, at which time Congress will be asked again to ratify the appointment of 3-4 new members, one of which is its own rep. Congress will be provided with exactly one choice for each seat, with the option to vote either yes or no.
The candidates are put before Congress by a nominating committee, which consists of chair Marni Vath, Frank Merril, Justin Whitton, Johnson and Knight. As the chair, Vath was appointed by Congress. The other four members are appointed by the board, meaning the board essentially seats itself.
The September meeting will be Vath’s last as chair of the nominating committee, as her two-year term expires. However, Vath served on the board for much longer prior to being named chair, and it’s possible she will be retained should a seat become available and she were appointed, as former chair Merril has been.
Vath served on the nominating committee which seated Will Chang, Chad Keck, Rob King and Bob Kimmit, all of which have been run off for their part in ripping USA Rugby’s commercial assets out from under them and sliding them under a for-profit entity, through which it raised and squandered $7.5 million, leaving the union in such financial disarray it had to pawn a board seat to World Rugby.
Johnson is also a member of the board, having survived a recall vote earlier this summer. Johnson has been on the board since 2015, and enough of his fellow Congress members felt he was responsible for the financial woes caused by negligence and lack of oversight, because he, as Congress’ representative to the board, was specifically tasked with checking the board, for a vote to keep or oust him. 26 voted to keep Johnson, and nine vote to get rid of him.
There is some momentum heading into the September meeting to potentially change USA Rugby’s bylaws to augment the way members are nominated and ultimately appointed.