We’ll get it right – WRU chief swears task force will restore ‘trust and faith’

Welsh Rugby Union president Ieuan Evans has promised to set up a task force with “external expertise” to help address allegations of racist, homophobic and sexist bullying within the governing body.

A number of former WRU employees were involved in an investigation by BBC Wales, which was screened on Monday night with accusations about their time with the organisation.

Charlotte Wathan, general manager of women’s rugby until she resigned last February, claimed that a colleague’s offensive comments made her burst into tears and made her feel sick, while another unnamed participant says she is considering suicide because of her experiences of bullying and sexism at work.

WRU chief Ieuan Evans, right

WRU chief Ieuan Evans, right, wants to address the allegations (Ben Birchall/PA)

Incidents of racism and homophobia are also alleged.

This led to calls from fans to sack WRU CEO Steve Phillips, while major sponsors of the game in Wales expressed serious concerns during the damaging fallout.

When asked specifically about Phillips’ future, former Wales captain Evans said: “I have full confidence that we will do it right.

This includes Steve. He is president of the Welsh Rugby Union. We will get it right.

“I can only sincerely and heartily apologize to anyone affected.

“As the father of two young women, I find this very upsetting and I can only apologize to anyone affected by it.

“WRU is an iconic institution in Wales that relies heavily on goodwill.

“You work hard to achieve this goodwill, but goodwill needs to be renewed and people now want reassurance. We will address issues, drive changes and restore that trust and belief.

“It’s not about individuals, it’s a collective. We are all. We have to face the challenge together.

“I want to make sure that our game and our organization are fit to be a modern, extroverted organisation. I think that’s our drive here.

“My goal here is to create a task force to bring in some outside expertise and have them review everything, and ensure that we create and develop the right culture to make it the hospitable institution we truly believe it can be.

“This cannot be an internal review, this should be an external review with the real expertise we need from other organisations. Other organizations, sports, organizations may have had similar experiences.”

Phillips wrote to WRU’s member clubs: “We will re-examine our structures and procedures to ensure that our people find a business that cares and is responsive to their needs and well-being.

“I can’t turn back time, but I promise we’ll start making the necessary changes right away.

“Many of the recent comments have been hard to hear, but I urge anyone affected by issues arising anywhere in the game to contact us immediately.”

Fans group JSG Cymru wrote a letter to Evans calling for Phillips’ dismissal, and the Principality Building Society, sponsors of Wales’ national stadium in Cardiff and supporters of the Welsh grassroots game, described the allegations as “extremely worrying”.

Evans continued: “We need to sit down with the board as soon as possible. Putting it that way, I don’t think there is a long time frame here.

“We cannot escape responsibility. We have to be front and center on this and it is my responsibility to lead it.

“I hope there is a remnant of that goodwill, but it has been tarnished, there is no doubt about it, and we have to address it and earn that trust.

“Nothing could be more important than that. If you’re going to offer me a (Six Nations) Grand Slam or a successful outcome and solving it, then culture comes first.

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