WRU faces allegations of sexism and discrimination following BBC investigation

The Welsh Rugby Union is facing allegations of sexism and discrimination, which has caused MP and former Wales international player Tonia Antoniazzi to express “major concern” about women’s play in the country.

A number of former WRU employees have participated in an investigation conducted by BBC Wales, which will be shown Monday night, and have made accusations about their time on the governing body.

Charlotte Wathan, general manager of women’s rugby until she resigned last February, claimed that a colleague’s offensive comments had brought her to tears and made her feel sick, while another unnamed participant says she was considering suicide because of her experiences of workplace bullying and sexism. BBC Wales Investigates.

Incidents of racism and homophobia are also alleged.

WRU said an “amicable settlement” was reached after Wathan “satisfied both sides” following an investigation by an external law firm. He said a confidentiality agreement between the parties prevented further details.

He noted that one more complaint has been reviewed and withdrawn, and that the new information in the publication will be “followed up and necessary action will be taken”.

A spokesperson said: “The Welsh Rugby Union condemns the use of racist, homophobic or sexist language and states in the strongest possible terms that racist, homophobic, sexist or bullying behavior has no place in Welsh rugby.”

A statement continued: “It is vital to note that as employers we have an obligation to care for both complainants and those complained of.

“This duty of due diligence remains, and we are deeply concerned about the impact this program will have on these individuals as the allegations disclosed remain unfounded following extensive independent legal investigation.”

But Antoniazzi, who once played in support for Wales and now represents the Gower constituency and serves as the Labor Party’s shadow Northern Ireland minister, remains concerned about the expression.

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MP Tonia Antoniazzi has expressed “great concern” about the future of women’s rugby in Wales (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA)

He likened the evidence to the racism scandal that struck cricket following Azeem Rafiq’s allegations against Yorkshire, and he believes an independent body may be needed to account for sports institutions in Wales.

“This is on par with what happens in cricket. “I have big, big concerns about the future of women’s rugby in Wales,” she said.

“When there are problems within the governing bodies, sports governing bodies in Wales… an independent body should be set up to deal with all complaints. There has to be a place to go.”

In response to these comments, the WRU said: “With regard to comments made by MP Tonia Antoniazzi, the WRU invites the Labor MP to engage directly on issues raised by Gower and welcomes the opportunity to discuss his concerns.”

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