Former Lions skipper Bill Beaumont has suffered a significant setback in his quest to become the chairman of the International Rugby Board.
Beaumont, who led the Lions with distinction on the 1980 tour of South Africa and was team manager in 2005, is bidding to replace Bernard Lapasset in arguably the most influential position in the world game.
The IRB council will meet in Los Angeles on December 12 to decide whether the ex-England captain will step into the role or whether Lapasset will continue in the position he currently holds.
The decision was initially due to have been made in the immediate aftermath of the World Cup but the heated nature of the debate led to the final outcome being deferred until next month.
Needing 14 votes to succeed Lapasset, Beaumont appears to have missed out on the support of the Asian Rugby Union who mandated their delegate to vote for the Frenchman.
The Asian RU elected Japan's Koji Tokumasu as its delegate rather than the Beaumont-supporting Trevor Gregory from Hong Kong to leave Lapasset with a likely majority.
Beaumont will now attempt to rescue the situation by persuading the North American union to change its mind about backing Lapasset.
Prior to the original meeting, the North Americans were represented by a Canadian who favoured Beaumont’s candidacy but they have since switched to an American whose national union support Lapasset thanks to his success in getting Rugby Sevens accepted into the Olympic fold.