WRU votes in favour of governance reforms after sexism allegations
NEWS: Member clubs of the Welsh Rugby Union voted overwhelmingly in favour of “momentous” governance reforms on Sunday after the ruling body had been rocked by sexism allegations and a damaging row with its players.
Of 252 votes cast either at an Extraordinary General Meeting at the Princess Royal Theatre in Port Talbot, or by proxy, only seven were against the proposals, meaning the 75 percent majority needed for the changes to be enacted was easily surpassed
The WRU will now appoint an independent non-executive director (INED) as chair and recruit two further new INEDs to its 12-person board, doubling the total number of independent representatives to six, with the aim of ensuring at least five directors are women.
“We now have a line in the sand from which we intend to move forward purposefully, swiftly and better prepared to serve Welsh rugby’s needs,” said WRU chair Ieuan Evans.
“The repercussions of a positive vote are nothing short of momentous,” the former Wales captain added.
In January, Steve Phillips resigned as WRU chief executive following a BBC documentary that aired allegations of sexism, racism and homophobia at the governing body.
Former general manager for women’s rugby Charlotte Wathan told the documentary of how a male colleague had said in front of others that he wanted to “rape” her and that she had considered suicide due to what she described as a “toxic culture” of sexism at the WRU.
Further off-field problems followed when the Wales men’s side threatened a strike that would have scuppered February’s showpiece Six Nations match against England in Cardiff.
Welsh internationals and their club colleagues were unhappy at the failure by the WRU and Wales’ four regional teams – Cardiff, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets – to offer new written agreements, with many players out of contract at the end of the season.
Wales captain Ken Owens said at the time Welsh rugby had become the “laughing stock” of the global game, amid fears of a player exodus to non-Welsh clubs.
But a compromise was brokered and earlier this month it was announced the regions could offer players new deals following an agreement to introduce standard contracts.
The dispute provided an unsettling backdrop to a poor run of results at the start of Warren Gatland’s second spell as Wales coach, with the team winning just one of their matches, against fellow strugglers Italy, in the recently concluded Six Nations.
Previous attempts at reforming the structure of the WRU had failed to gain a sufficient majority, amid fears of a loss of power among many amateur member clubs, but officials had warned of dire consequences if change was blocked again.
WRU interim chief executive Nigel Walker welcomed Sunday’s vote by saying: “This is just the beginning of a journey which will see the trust and faith of a nation in Welsh rugby restored and revitalised.”