LONDON (Reuters) - Tier Two rugby nations such as Japan, Georgia and the U.S. will have a greater say in the running of World Rugby after wide-ranging reforms aimed at growing the sport's global appeal.
In the wake of a successful World Cup in England in which Tier Two sides made a huge contribution, voting rights on the World Rugby Council will be widened.
All unions who have qualified for the last two Rugby World Cups will have one vote and one representive on the World Rugby Council, rising to a maximum of three votes depending on certain criteria being met.
In addition all six regional associations will also receive two votes.
"We have enjoyed a very special and record-breaking Rugby World Cup in England and rugby is experiencing record participation growth, media interest and commercial appeal," World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said in a statement.
"This exciting new model, developed following extensive review and consultation, will ensure that World Rugby, and by extension, the sport, has the governance structures and tools to support future growth as rugby continues to inspire and thrive."
In other reforms aimed at modernizing and streamlining the governing body, two independent skills-based directors will be included on the 12-man Executive Committee.
"This is a great step forward for World Rugby. The World Rugby Council will now have a wider range of voices," USA Rugby Chairman Bob Latham said of the reforms.
"We are confident that USA Rugby will satisfy the Committee that we meet the criteria to have our own seat on the Council -- something that has long been a goal of USA Rugby."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman)