WRU chief executive to resign after sexism and misogyny allegations at organisation
The chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union is to resign after allegations of sexism, misogyny and racism within the organisation.
Steve Phillips had been under mounting pressure following a BBC Wales Investigates programme that revealed a “toxic culture” at the governing body and has now stepped down.
"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."
Nigel Walker, who will take over on an interim basis while the recruitment process for a new CEO is established, said Welsh rugby faces an "existential crisis" and that allegations of sexism, misogyny and racism within the organisation 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, 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."
All four Welsh regions – Cardiff, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets – endorsed calls for Phillips to step down after the documentary aired last week.
In the programme Charlotte Wathan, the former head of Welsh women’s rugby, described how a male colleague joked in front of others that he wanted to “rape” her while another former WRU employee said she wrote a manual for her husband in case she killed herself.
The WRU said that both cases were investigated and proper procedures were followed.
Cardiff director Hayley Parsons last week called for Phillips and the WRU board to resign following the allegations. In an email to WRU chairman Ieuan Evans, she described a “long-standing and deep-rooted culture of toxicity and bullying within the WRU” and talked of the “incompetence” of the union.
No allegations were made against Phillips in the programme and he was not accused of any wrongdoing.
Phillips had said in a statement earlier last week: “I cannot turn back the clock but I promise you we will start work on making necessary changes immediately. I will not lead an organisation which would walk past or excuse any of the behaviour described. I will not stand by and watch a culture which falls below the high standards we set.
“We will re-examine how we behave in all quarters of the WRU, we will never be complacent in this area, not on my watch.
“I care deeply about this subject, the WRU cares deeply and we will act to change wherever we find fault, genuine complaint or grievance."