WRU announce plans to modernise board with five female representatives
THE Welsh Rugby Union has announced plans to modernise the profile of its board with a woman to be hired for at least one of its new chief executive and independent chair roles.
It comes after the governing body were hit by sexism and discrimination allegations.
Allegations of a “toxic culture” at the WRU were aired in a television documentary last week, resulting in the resignation of chief executive Steve Phillips on Sunday.
An independent taskforce is to be set up to tackle the allegations, with Sport Wales – a Welsh government-funded body – advising on the make-up and remit of the panel.
The WRU provided a separate on Wednesday, saying it will ask member clubs to approve a proposal on March 26 or earlier that the board’s next chair should be an appointed independent non-executive director, that its composition should include at least five women out of 12 members and that its skill-set should be significantly more diverse.
Currently only one woman sits on the WRU board.
At least one of or both the chief executive and independent chair roles will be held by women while two of the four independent non-executive directors will be females.
A majority of 75 per cent in favour of the proposals will be required by members at an extraordinary general meeting, set to be called imminently, but incumbent chair Ieuan Evans has led the campaign to get the proposals pre-approved by the existing board.
Similar proposals were rejected at the WRU’s last annual general meeting in October, with only 66 per cent voting in favour that the next WRU chair should be an appointed independent non-executive director.
But Evans said: “The onus is on us to explain to members the benefits of the proposals we are making and we will do so, but I also think members will understand the necessity of what we are trying to achieve, having had time to reflect on and digest last year’s AGM proposals.
“We are asking members to allow us to make significant changes to our constitution, which they won’t do lightly and rightly so.
“But we must also be wholly transparent about the scale of change necessary to ensure the survival of Welsh rugby.
“We need to enact change to ensure our game is able to survive and flourish at all levels in Wales.
“There has been extensive consultation with the WRU board approving these recommendations in September 2022 after completing an independent external review of our governance and its effectiveness.
“The proposals address all of the key recommendations from the external review and it is our central plea to members that they allow us to make these changes for the good of the game in Wales.
“There is a stark choice before us, to wither or flourish and we will be visiting clubs and districts around Wales to explain our mission here and to implore them to vote these vital modernisations though.
“There has been much talk of an existential crisis in Welsh rugby in recent days.
“Passing these proposals will help us address these issues and many others and ensure we have a modern, fit for purpose, representative board to take Welsh rugby into a new modern era and to restore the trust and pride of those around us.”