WRU: Testimony in rugby sexism report 'harrowing'

A damning report into the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) shows the body allowed a culture that brought the game into disrepute, a senior Welsh politician has said.

A review has that found sexism, misogyny, racism and homophobia was not properly challenged in the WRU.

Heledd Fychan, Plaid Cymru's culture spokesperson, said it was a "frank and tough read".

The organisation's new chair has apologised for the WRU's conduct.

Abi Tierney, who will become chief executive in January, said the WRU will implement all the recommendations the independent panel has made.

The Welsh Labour government said the report should serve as a watershed for Welsh rugby.

The review followed a BBC Wales Investigates programme last January that uncovered allegations of sexism and misogyny.

A week after the programme was shown, former WRU chief executive Steve Phillips resigned with a pay-off of £480,000.

The independent report found inappropriate sexist and homophobic language used towards female employees, and a sexist attitude from the men's performance staff towards the Wales women's team.

Tonia Antoniazzi, a former Wales rugby player and MP for Gower, said earlier this year she had raised concerns about the WRU directly with the Welsh government after a speech she made in March 2022.

She welcomed the report, and said she hoped "the WRU will take this opportunity to rebuild their organisation so it can free itself from the blight of discrimination and prejudice which has hindered the growth and success of our national sport".

Plaid Cymru's culture spokesperson, Ms Fychan, said: "This report is a frank and tough read, with some harrowing testimony from women who have experienced unacceptable behaviour within Welsh rugby, and within the body which is responsible for running the game in Wales.

"It is clear that the WRU, a sporting body of national significance, fell unacceptably short in its governance, allowing a culture to permeate which has brought the game and the governing body into disrepute."

Welsh Conservative Shadow Sports Minister, Tom Giffard MS, said he hoped the WRU would make further improvements and that the report would bring closure to those affected.

"The report itself makes for some very difficult reading, highlighting completely abhorrent examples of blatant misogyny from WRU officials. It is right that the WRU have apologised," he said in a statement.

'Important milestone'

The Senedd's culture committee plans to discuss the WRU's report and the actions it has undertaken.

Its chair, Delyth Jewell, said: "This report does not, and cannot mark the end of this story - but it will, with hope, mark an important milestone on the WRU's way towards ensuring that rugby is a sport that welcomes people from all backgrounds, and that spaces are created where those people feel safe."

A Welsh government spokeswoman said: "The report should serve as a watershed moment that brings change for the whole of Welsh rugby.

"It is reassuring that the WRU has accepted, without exception, all of the recommendations of the review panel, with significant progress already made in some areas."

WRU chairman Richard Collier-Keywood added: "We are truly sorry to those who have been impacted by the systems, structures and conduct described in the report which are simply not acceptable."