Advertisement

Dragons coach backs calls for inquiry into WRU sexism claims

Dragons coach backs calls for inquiry into WRU sexism claims <i>(Image: Newsquest)</i>
Dragons coach backs calls for inquiry into WRU sexism claims (Image: Newsquest)

DRAGONS head coach Dai Flanagan has backed calls for an inquiry into claims of sexism and misogyny at the Welsh Rugby Union.

A number of former WRU employees featured in a BBC Wales investigation, which was screened on Monday night, with accusations of a “toxic culture” at the governing body.

Charlotte Wathan, general manager of women’s rugby until her resignation last February, claims offensive comments by a colleague left her in tears and feeling sick, while another unnamed contributor says she was left contemplating suicide by her experiences of bullying and sexism at work.

Incidents of racism and homophobia are also alleged, prompting former First Minister Carwyn Jones to call for a Senedd inquiry.

"The reputation of not just the Welsh Rugby Union, but rugby in general in Wales, will continue to be tarnished if people think that the action that's been taken isn't sufficient,” he said to BBC Radio Wales.

Flanagan, who joined the WRU-owned Dragons from the Scarlets last summer as head coach, joined the calls for action.

South Wales Argus: Dragons head coach Dai Flanagan
South Wales Argus: Dragons head coach Dai Flanagan

Dragons head coach Dai Flanagan

"It's not right and it shouldn't be in our world anymore, let alone in sport,” he said. “The show on Monday was a tough watch.

“I am not qualified to say whether [Steve Phillips, WRU chief executive] is the right guy or not but I know he leads an organisation that has to change.

“You hear the stuff that was said and that cannot happen in the workplace.

“It was concerning to see and Steve mentioned being better but things should have changed a long time ago."

Asked if he would support an inquiry, Flanagan replied: "I support being better and if that takes an inquiry, most certainly.”

Phillips responded to the programme in a lengthy statement on Tuesday night and pointed to the period before he was appointed as chief executive.

“I know you will have been shocked and appalled by the allegations in the BBC programme broadcast on Monday night and I am sorry to see how individuals who have worked for us felt,” said Phillips, who was previously on the WRU’s board in his role as finance director.

“Our culture was not where it needed to be, when we have employees not feeling confident enough to speak up between 2017 and 2019.

South Wales Argus: WRU chief executive Steve Phillips, head coach Warren Gatland and chairman Ieuan Evans (Image: PA)
South Wales Argus: WRU chief executive Steve Phillips, head coach Warren Gatland and chairman Ieuan Evans (Image: PA)

WRU chief executive Steve Phillips, head coach Warren Gatland and chairman Ieuan Evans (Image: PA) (Image: PA)

“Following this programme we will, again, review the process and procedures we have in place to make sure all staff feel safe and supported in speaking up about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.

“The WRU knows it has fallen short in presenting Welsh rugby to the world in the best light. We have fallen short of the high standards I expect.

“I strongly condemn the use of racist, homophobic or sexist language of any kind and state in the strongest possible terms that racism, homophobic, sexist or bullying behaviour has no place in Welsh rugby.”

There are growing calls for Phillips to step down with Principality Building Society, sponsors of the national stadium and supporters of the Welsh grassroots game, calling for "immediate and decisive" action.