An English rugby writer has questioned the knighthood of World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont.
The former England and British and Irish captain was knighted in the most recent Queen's New Year Honours list, with the 66-year-old former Rugby Football Union chairman thrilled to earn the award.
"I just thought 'wow'. To think that I would be mentioned alongside the great sports people who have been knighted was very humbling," said Beaumont.
However, Owen Slot, a rugby writer for The Times, argued that the timing of Beaumont's honour was terrible, considering that rugby is currently dealing with the fact that several young players died while playing the sport.
"Is it right to honour the man in the very top position in World Rugby in the very same month that a young French player died when playing the game that he is administering?," asked Slot.
"Nicolas Chauvin, the 19-year-old Stade Francais player, had his neck broken in a two-man tackle, causing cardiac arrest and brain damage. Beaumont would no doubt feel the pain of this tragedy terribly — as should any one of us involved in the promoting of the sport. Same thing when another 21-year-old French player died during a game in August and same again when the first of three 2018 tragedies in French rugby claimed the life of a 17-year-old when playing the game in May.
"After three tragedies in one rugby-playing country it is no time for bestowing honours on the people who run the game."
While acknowleding Beaumount's respected status in the rugby community, Slot said the concern over the long-term safety of rugby should have outweighed any potential honours for the sport's elite.
"No one knighted the skipper or the engineer of the Titanic before it set sail; they might have done if they had made it across the Atlantic," said Slot, making an incredible stretch.
"So it should have been for Beaumont: if he can take the game back to calmer waters, then no honour would be great enough."