By David Williams
Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) acting CEO, Nigel Walker, has expressed regret over the handling of allegations of sexism and misogyny within the organisation.
He took over as acting CEO after Steve Phillips resigned on Sunday.
Two women had complained about a “toxic culture” within the WRU, leading to an investigation by the BBC.
The investigation revealed various allegations, including that former head of Wales women’s rugby, Charlotte Wathan, considered suicide due to sexist comments made by a male colleague.
Speaking about the situation, Walker stated: “The tone of the Welsh Rugby Union today is one of contrition, remorse, and apology to those employees who went through what they went through and a desire to get things right…We recognize we have fallen short of the high standards that are necessary.
Fair play @laurenemmaj superb on Scrum V tonight. Proper grilling. Fair play to Nigel for turning up on the show again with the WRU in yet another crisis. Don’t see anyone else fronting up.Complete lack of leadership from the WRU last week.
— Jason Freeman (@JSNFRMN) January 29, 2023
“We apologise, we recognise we’ve made many mistakes. What we’re looking to do now is to improve and get back a semblance of credibility as we realise that it is now at an all-time low.”
Walker admitted that the WRU is facing an “existential crisis” and must do “much better”.
An independent taskforce will be established to assess the culture within the union.
The WRU aims to bring forward an extraordinary general meeting in March to try to get the clubs to vote for an independent chair.
Walker emphasised the need for governance reforms and stated: “We recognize we need to reform and we need to make sure there is a diversity of people and skills on that board…We are absolutely committed to that.”
He acknowledged that the WRU had “fallen short” of expectations and that its credibility had reached “a low point.”
Following Steve Phillips’ departure on Sunday, Walker, a former Wales international, assumed the position of temporary CEO.
— Gurbaksh Singh Chahal (@gchahal) January 30, 2023
He also stated that the WRU would “possibly not” be in this situation if they had listened to former WRU board chair, Amanda Blanc, who warned the union about its “deep-rooted” cultural and behavioural problems.
Phillips resigned after less than three years in post and faced mounting pressure from all four regions, players, politicians, and major sponsors.
No allegations were made against Phillips in the recent BBC programme and he was not accused of any wrongdoing.
Walker, who was previously the performance director, has stepped up as acting CEO until a long-term successor to Phillips is appointed.