By David Williams
The Welsh Rugby Union’s chief executive Steve Phillips has resigned after an investigation uncovered complaints of racism, sexism and homophobia.
Nigel Walker will take over as acting CEO with immediate effect, the organisation confirmed, after a number of former employees spoke out as part of a BBC Wales Investigates programme that aired last week, alleging a ‘toxic culture’.
Charlotte Wathan, who quit last year as general manager of women’s rugby, spoke of how a male colleague said he wanted to “rape” her, while another contributor alleged she was left contemplating suicide by her experiences of bullying and sexism at work.
It was announced on Friday that an independent task force has been set up by Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) chair Ieuan Evans to look into “culture and behaviours” at the organisation.
“There is no doubt that Welsh rugby is facing an existential crisis,” Walker said.
“We must now listen intently to what people from outside our organisation are telling us. We care and are committed to equality, diversity and inclusion and we work hard in this space with dedicated resource and investment.
“But we need to do better. We need to do much better and we will.
“We will take the necessary corrective steps and stick closely to what the new Taskforce advises.
“I would like to add my gratitude to Steve Phillips who is someone I have always found to be open-minded, caring and dedicated to Welsh rugby.
“I will work tirelessly and relentlessly with our chair Ieuan Evans, with our Board and with the newly appointed Taskforce to ensure the WRU progresses to a better place.”
“It is with a huge amount of regret that I have decided to hand in my resignation,” said Phillips.
“I have always had the best interests of Welsh rugby at the heart of my every action and thought, but have come to the conclusion that it is now time for someone else to lead the way.
“This is a sport I love and is so admired around the world and I wish everyone involved in the game every success and my heartfelt best wishes.
“I am absolutely aligned with Ieuan’s commitment to re-examine and further improve the cultures and behaviours at the WRU and fully support the formation of a new independent Taskforce. I am pleased I have been able to start this process for the WRU
“On a personal note, I wish Nigel Walker well and thank all of the dedicated staff at the WRU who can be extremely proud of the efforts and hard work they put in on a daily basis to the betterment of our game.
“I am on record already saying how much I hugely regret the feelings and emotions expressed recently by former members of staff.”
No allegations were made against Phillips in the programme and he wasn’t accused of any wrongdoing.