WRU chairman Gareth Davies has praised Martyn Phillips for agreeing to do a U-turn on his departure as chief executive this summer to help steer the union through the coronavirus crisis.
Phillips has agreed to extend his stay in his role beyond five years and will remain at the helm “for the foreseeable future”.
“In these testing times it’s a hugely positive development for us to have mutually agreed for him to stay on for the foreseeable future,” said Davies.
“Martyn has stepped up to meet the challenges posed to Welsh rugby by the current world health crisis and will provide the stability and continuity we will so desperately need to ensure that Welsh rugby navigates these challenges and hits the ground running once this pandemic is over.
“With so many moving parts, and so much uncertainty about the immediate future of our game, it is hugely reassuring to now know that we will continue to be in Martyn’s safe hands for as long as is necessary.”
The search for a successor to Phillips has now been suspended and he will continue to work with Davies on keeping the game in Wales afloat during the current crisis.
The WRU had already pledged £100,000 to flood-hit clubs before the pandemic struck and last week promised each of the 320 clubs £1,000.
That, and more, is going to be required in the coming months to keep the game alive at the community level, while talks are ongoing with the Professional Rugby Board to look after the regional game.
No announcement has yet been made about cutting players’ salaries at the four regions, but it is expected they will follow the lead of the clubs in England sooner rather than later.
The WRU is also in dialogue with World Rugby to try to seek financial assistance from them as well as the UK government to make ends meet.
“It has become clear that now is not a good time to begin the transition to a new CEO. I’m only too pleased to continue in the role as we negotiate unprecedented circumstances,” said Phillips.
“We have set ourselves the simple goal to emerge from this crisis with the WRU and all teams and clubs, whether they be amateur, semi-professional or professional, intact and able to have a sustainable future.”
Phillips could be around for some time to provide stability, especially if Davies is forced to step down as chairman after serving his two terms later this year.
The constitutional reforms that Davies introduced a few years ago mean the chairman is only supposed to served two terms of three years.
“The visitors hang onto their lead like terriers on a bone.”
Cliff Morgan’s Welsh terriers beat England in the 1956 Five Nations Championship. Wales went on to win the title #OnThisDay in Cardiff.
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) March 24, 2020
There has been talk among the executive board of the WRU that a way should be found to give Davies an extension of up to 18 months to steer the union through some tough times.
Although the proposed EGM forced by 34 clubs has been postponed, the election of a new National Representative will still go ahead.
The battle between former Wales internationals Nigel Davies and Ieuan Evans, alongside John Manders is due to be concluded on 30 April.