RWC 2011 revote request still not cancelled

Asian Rugby Football Union president Priyantha Ekanayake has admitted that he authorised a British legal firm to send a letter to the IRB & has refused to withdraw the action, despite statements from the IRB, ARFU secretary general Jamie Scott, and Japan, that they do not support its contents.

Ekanayake has said that Addleshaw Goddard were waiting for his instructions, but that he could not give them a directive until he had contacted all 23 members on the ARFU council.

“That would be early next week,” he said, and though the action was not likely to continue, he could not speak for other members.

“It’s very unlikely. That’s how I feel. (But) it’s very difficult to say because people have different opinions about that.”

He hasalso admitted that he did not know who was paying law firm Addleshaw Goddard. This caused speculation that a mystery backer footed the legal bill for their bid to overturn the IRB vote that awarded New Zealand the 2011 World Cup.

“If there was a cost involved I would not have got them involved,” he said from Colombo. “They are doing it for no charge.”

This has caused much specualtion in New Zealand as English law firms are not cheap and rarely do work such as this for no charge. Speculation over who is paying the law firm has ranged from the firm’s boss to a large Japanese Corporation who backed the bid.

Addleshaw Goddard’s boss, Quentin Smith, also happens to be the boss of the premiership Sale Sharks and has been a vocal critic of the (English) RFU and the IRB in the club-versus-country battle for financial control of the game in England.

The IRB has been under immense pressure all week, with several English newspapers hammering the governing body of world rugby for its handling of the 2011 hosting rights won by New Zealand.

The Asian Rugby Football Union’s New Zealand-born secretary general Jamie Scott also came under intense scrutiny from English newspapers this week over inferences he used the secret ballot process to vote for the country of his birth rather than Japan, as instructed by the ARFU.

Jamie Scott denied he betrayed Asia by voting for New Zealand. Ekanayake said that Scott had not had anything to do with the letter. “The letter went from me. Jamie had nothing to do with it . . . I gave the green light to send the letter.”

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