Welsh Players Demand WRU Action On Sexism As Sport Wales Oversee Task Force Plan

Wales squad players. Pic: WRU.

Welsh Players Demand WRU Action On Sexism As Sport Wales Oversee Task Force Plan

By Paul Jones

The Welsh Rugby Players Association has urged the Welsh Rugby Union to take the “strongest possible action” after allegations of sexism and bullying within the organisation.

An open letter was sent to WRU chairman Ieuan Evans from the WRPA following a BBC investigation, which featured former WRU employees alleging incidents including racism and homophobia during their time with the organisation.

One contributor claimed she had considered suicide as a result of her experiences.

The open letter read: “These unacceptable incidents, arising from a culture that enables such behaviour, have a profound impact on individuals and communities throughout society, and within the game we love.

“It is time that the WRU and its leadership truly takes responsibility for living up to the inclusive values that rugby claims to pride itself on. Otherwise discriminatory behaviours, with a lack of condemnation and consequences, create an environment that discourages people from being part of our game, including but not limited to women and those from marginalised groups.

“Specifically, we urge the WRU to investigate the process that was carried out when the allegations were originally raised and review the outcomes. We also call for transparency with all stakeholders and the public regarding the outcome of the review we understand will now be conducted into the WRU’s culture, along with what solutions will be put in place as a result, to ensure that such occurrences are prevented in the future.

“Ultimately, we support the strongest possible action being taken as soon as possible, to address the wide-ranging concerns that have been voiced from across the game and our nation.”

Evans met with the Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport and Chief Whip, Dawn Bowden, on Friday to discuss a new independent Taskforce to be charged with investigating culture and behaviours within the national governing body.

The meeting was described as ‘constructive’ by all parties, with Sport Wales Acting CEO Brian Davies OBE, Chair Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and WRU CEO Steve Phillips also in attendance.

It was concluded that, in order to maintain independence, Sport Wales will now advise on the process to appoint a Chair to oversee the investigation, set its scope and parameters and recruit key personnel to its panel.

“We are keen to progress with this investigation as soon as possible and greatly welcome the contributions of all in attendance today,” Evans said. “The meeting discussed urgent next steps and concluded that the investigation will focus on culture and behaviours.”

Cardiff director Hayley Parsons has called for WRU chief executive Steve Phillips to resign from his role in the wake of the allegations.

“In my role as non-executive director of Cardiff Rugby, I constantly witness and have to deal with the fallout of incompetence at the WRU,” Parsons wrote in a letter.

Ieuan Evans faces the media. Pic: Getty Images.

“I believe the board, in its current state, does not possess the expertise or experience to run the WRU, which is essentially a £100m company.

“As a group of individuals, they are not fit for purpose and the future of Welsh rugby requires people with the capability and experience to turn this urgent and dire situation around.

“Many people have told me first hand about the culture of bullying and manipulation within the WRU. I was saddened but not shocked to read the comments from Amanda Blanc, one of the UK’s leading businesswomen who invested her time and effort in the future of Welsh rugby, only to be disrespected and devalued, subsequently leaving her role.

“As a business professional and entrepreneur, who founded a multimillion-pound business that remains in Wales, I am pleading with you to make the right decision for the WRU.”

Parsons went on to call for change to the WRU’s treatment of its staff, clubs and ‘dominance’ over the game, before urging the formation of a new board.

“The WRU’s dedicated and hardworking staff, most of whom are a credit to the game and work tirelessly to champion it, are being failed by the WRU’s continued unwillingness to accept responsibility for the failures at board level to tackle the toxic and oppressive culture within the Union,” she added.


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