Fiji and Samoa have joined an expanded World Rugby Council, it has been announced following its latest meeting in Dublin.
With a new governance model paving the way for wider representation on World Rugby’s Council, the Unions will take their place at the May 2019 Annual Meeting having successfully achieved the required good governance criteria as stipulated within the Bye-Laws of World Rugby in line with governance reform launched in November 2015.
Fiji and Samoa follow Georgia, Romania and the United States onto the expanded Council.
"This is an historic day for World Rugby and the Pacific Islands, and a reflection of the importance and success of the transformational governance reforms made by this organisation and the Unions," World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said.
"We are delighted to be welcoming Fiji and Samoa to Council, two Unions who have contributed so much to the game.
"The Pacific Islands are unique, immersed in rugby, and I know that the Unions will bring excellent insights and make strong contributions on Council.
"This shows that the model is in place, the pathway is in place and the door is open to other unions who aspire to have a seat on Council.
"We encourage all unions to take inspiration from Fiji and Samoa, review their governance and strive to achieve the required criteria.
"World Rugby is committed to the sustainable growth of the sport set against a backdrop of strong governance, and we will continue to work with our unions to ensure that they have all the necessary support to achieve and maintain the necessary criteria."
The World Rugby Council also approved the recommendation of the Executive and Regional Committees to accept Burkina Faso and Lebanon as associate members of the International Federation having met the required associate member criteria.
There are now 123 National Unions who are members of World Rugby.
The World Rugby Council also welcomed four new members, including Australia's Cameron Clyne, Ireland's Philip Orr and Italy's Suzanna Vecci.
They were joined Christina Flores, representing Rugby Americas North, and Claudia Betancur from Sudamerica Rugby.
The Council now stands at 49 members, of whom 14 are women.
Council also elected Mark Alexander, the President of SA Rugby Union, onto the World Rugby Executive Committee.
He replaces the seat vacated by Ireland's Pat Whelan, who stood down earlier this year.
Alexander joins the 12-person group, which also includes South African businesswoman Wendy Luhabe, an independent member of the World Rugby Executive Committee chaired by Beaumont and which runs the business of the sport.
The World Rugby Council, though, is the multi-national body that makes the big decisions such as the host nation for the Rugby World Cup.
"It is a huge honour to be named on the executive body among a number of highly respected administrators in the game," Alexander said in a statement from Dublin.
"South Africa has had a strong representation on the Executive [Committee] over time, and I am proud and humbled to follow in that tradition.
"These are exciting times for rugby with a number of opportunities - as well as challenges - and I am delighted to be part of this group that will be determined to continue the growth and interest in the game around the world."