The great North-South divide in rugby was never more in evidence than when the votes were counted for the chairmanship of World Rugby last week. Sir Bill Beaumont stayed in the job, beating Agustin Pichot by 28 votes to 23, but wow, what an outcome in terms of who actually supported the former England and British Lions captain.

For New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Pichot’s native Argentina all voted against Beaumont. Yet these SANZAAR unions paid the price of treating their fellow Southern Hemisphere union such as Fiji, Samoa and Tonga with disdain as these Pacific unions were anything but peaceful in letting SANZAAR know about their complaints – more about them later.

With my usual proviso that even talking or writing about sport is tantamount to nonsense in these days of pandemiconium (sic) when thousands of lives are being lost every day, it seems only right that the occasion of the re-election of the most powerful man in the sport is the time to look ahead to developments on the world stage.

(I still want to hold to account those in authority who let certain Six Nations games go ahead or were too slow to cancel them – I had an e-mail this week confirming that three Scottish fans who went to Cardiff for the match that was eventually postponed tested positive for the virus on their return home – and I’m still hoping that all sports will follow the lead of the Pro14 administrators in their excellent criteria for a return of the tournament, if there is to be a return.)

Right now coronavirus is the biggest single threat to rugby and indeed all spectator sports. The Australian Rugby Union, Rugby Australia, was already deep in crisis when the pandemic struck and is now in total chaos having replaced its chairman and chief executive and undergone massive cuts – and this for the union which is the only candidate so far for the Rugby World Cup finals in 2027. While I’m at it, SRU, why not get together with Ireland and Wales and have a Celtic bid?

USA Rugby has already filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the equivalent of going into administration here, and while World Rugby has set aside £80million to keep the sport afloat, the challenges faced by tournaments such as the Six Nations and Rugby Championship as well as individual unions and clubs is daunting beyond belief.

Beaumont showed in his first four-year term that he is a steady hand on the tiller and that reputation as a safe pair of hands is probably what won him the election.

The other main reason for his win was that the Pacific Islands and Japan have long complained about being ignored by the Big Three southern unions and no wonder – since 1989, Scotland have played in Fiji three times and Australia not once, while South Africa have never played in Tonga, Samoa or Fiji. New Zealand only go to the Pacific Islands to steal their talent, and haven’t played in Fiji since 1984 and never at all in Tonga. So the Pacific unions basically said ya boo sucks to the Boks, the Blacks, and the Wallabies, and rightly so.

It is bridging the gap between north and south in a useful way which will define Beaumont’s second term. The plan for an international annual championship was ticking along nicely but fell apart over the issue of the timing of seasonal ‘windows’ – the very powerful English and French clubs were not convinced, and their unions followed suit.

Nobody really cares what the SRU thinks, it seems, but Murrayfield may have a role to play in bringing this problem to a solution. Coronavirus could be the key to re-setting the whole world of international rugby and while I deplore the fact that the governing body also runs clubs, it should mean the SRU speaking as one to try to force the necessary changes.

“There could well be an appetite for putting the two windows together,” said Beaumont as he pushed the global championship plan. It hasn’t got a name yet – could I suggest the Nations Cup?

Beaumont thinks it will work like this: “ It could be north going south in one month and then immediately afterwards the south would come north the next month”.

Seems sensible to me, and the quicker the better to repair rugby’s finances.

Yet Beaumont also knows the problems: “Bear in mind we have to take all stakeholders with us. You have to take the club game and European game with us.”

Beaumont also said a subsidiary competition featuring emerging nations could run in conjunction and feature promotion and relegation, while international eligibility rules could change to allow some tier one players to become entitled to represent tier two nations. That would infuriate the purists but would help distribute talent to lesser rugby countries.

Beaumont added: “What this pandemic has shown, is that we all rely on each other. We are at a crossroads, and there is a real desire from both the north and south to re-unite our game.”

Hope you’re right, Big Bill, but I hae ma doots.