Performance director Nigel Walker takes over as acting CEO

“The first step to any recovery is admitting the problem.” Those were the words of new acting chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union, Nigel Walker, after it was announced he would take on the top job after Steve Phillips resigns. Phillips has been under intense pressure after reports of misogyny, sexism and racism at the union emerged in a BBC Wales documentary.

The WRU has reiterated that there are no accusations against Phillips, however as the head of the union he has now stepped aside.

Former international Walker takes over at a particularly delicate time for the game in Wales, and said: “There is no doubt that Welsh rugby is facing an existential crisis.

“This has been a wake-up call. Perhaps it is a call that has been overdue. The first step to any recovery is admitting the problem. 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.”

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This comes after Charlotte Wathan, former general manager of women’s rugby, told of a number of incidents, including one male colleague joking about wanting to “rape” her. Two women complained of the WRU’s “toxic culture”, while another spoke of hearing a racist term in a work meeting.

Talking on Radio Wales today, WRU chairman Ieuan Evans explained that he would stay on to try push through governance change, with an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) planned for March, when the hope is to hold a vote for an independent chair.

This has all happened, while in the background there are continued fears of an exodus of top talent from Wales as regions seek clarity on their finances going forward.

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