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Wales Rugby Union chief executive Steve Phillips resigns after claims of racism, sexism and homophobia in organisation


Steve Phillips has resigned as chief executive of Welsh Rugby Union after claims of misogyny, sexism, racism and homophobia were levelled at the organisation.

He had previously resisted calls to quit following the broadcast of a documentary, which heard accusations of a “toxic culture” at the game’s governing body in Wales.

A number of former employees took part in the investigation by BBC Wales.

Charlotte Wathan, general manager of women’s rugby until her resignation last February, spoke of how a male colleague said in front of others in an office that he wanted to “rape” her, while another unnamed contributor says she was left contemplating suicide after her experiences of bullying and sexism at work.

In response, WRU chairman Ieuan Evans announced the setting up of an independent taskforce to look into “culture and behaviours” at the organisation.

Mr Phillips attended the meeting about the move, but had since decided it was “time for someone else to lead the way”.

No allegations were made against him in the programme and he was not accused of any wrongdoing.

Mr Phillips said in a statement: “It is with a huge amount of regret that I have decided to hand in my resignation.

“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.”

He added: “I am on record already saying how much I hugely regret the feelings and emotions expressed recently by former members of staff.”

‘Existential crisis’

Former Olympic hurdler and Welsh international Nigel Walker, who was the union’s performance director, will take over as acting chief executive with immediate effect.

“There is no doubt that Welsh rugby is facing an existential crisis,” he said.

“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.

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“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 resources 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.”

Walker, who was also head of sport at BBC Wales for five years, said: “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.”

Mr Evans thanked his departing chief executive for his “dedication and support for Welsh rugby”.

He added: “Nigel will work closely with the new taskforce and help lead us through the next urgent steps, as we seek to learn from the current serious and significant issues we face.”



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