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WRU investigation: Chief executive Steve Phillips encouraged to resign by Cardiff director Hayley Parsons

Cardiff director Hayley Parsons described the WRU’s failures to address its “toxic and oppressive culture” after a BBC investigation revealed accusations of bullying, sexism and homophobia.

Last Updated: 26/01/23 8:55pm


Cardiff director Hayley Parsons has called for WRU chief executive Steve Phillips to resign from his role in the wake of allegations of sexism and bullying within the organisation. 

Parsons wrote a letter to WRU chairman Ieuan Evans suggesting the current “crisis” had revealed “underlying issues that we have experienced for years”.

It comes after a BBC investigation featured former WRU employees alleging incidents including racism and homophobia during their time with the organisation, one contributor admitting she had considered suicide as a result of her experiences.

WRU chairman Evans described the accusations as “harrowing and distressing”, while Welsh MP Jo Stevens questioned the future of Phillips.

“In my role as non-executive director of Cardiff Rugby, I constantly witness and have to deal with the fallout of incompetence at the WRU,” Parsons wrote in a letter.

“I believe the board, in its current state, does not possess the expertise or experience to run the WRU, which is essentially a £100m company.

“As a group of individuals, they are not fit for purpose and the future of Welsh rugby requires people with the capability and experience to this urgent and dire situation around.

Welsh Rugby Union chief Ieuan Evans said he will take steps to address the culture within organisation and refused to single out chief executive Steve Phillips

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Welsh Rugby Union chief Ieuan Evans said he will take steps to address the culture within organisation and refused to single out chief executive Steve Phillips

Welsh Rugby Union chief Ieuan Evans said he will take steps to address the culture within organisation and refused to single out chief executive Steve Phillips

“Many people have told me first hand about the culture of bullying and manipulation within the WRU. I was saddened but not shocked to read the comments from Amanda Blanc, one of the UK’s leading businesswomen who invested her time and effort in the future of Welsh rugby, only to be disrespected and devalued, subsequently leaving her role.

“As a business professional and entrepreneur, who founded a multimillion-pound business that remains in Wales, I am pleading with you to make the right decision for the WRU.”

Parsons went on to call for change to the WRU’s treatment of its staff, clubs and ‘dominance’ over the game, before urging the formation of a new board.

“The WRU’s dedicated and hardworking staff, most of whom are a credit to the game and work tirelessly to champion it, are being failed by the WRU’s continued unwillingness to accept responsibility for the failures at board level to tackle the toxic and oppressive culture within the Union,” she added.

Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, Jo Stevens has called for an independent regulator to investigate the Welsh Rugby Union amid allegations of sexism.

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Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, Jo Stevens has called for an independent regulator to investigate the Welsh Rugby Union amid allegations of sexism.

Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, Jo Stevens has called for an independent regulator to investigate the Welsh Rugby Union amid allegations of sexism.

Phillips released a statement promising a review into the organisation’s process and procedures to make sure staff feel safe speaking up about issues that might make them feel uncomfortable, while ‘strongly condemning’ sexist, racist and homophobic behaviour and accepting that the WRU had “fallen short in presenting Welsh rugby to the world in the best light”.

While speaking to the media on Wednesday Evans was repeatedly questioned on whether he believed Phillips should stand down from his post.

“It’s not about just me [or] the chief executive – this is about a collective responsibility we all have to ensure the culture, on the back of how deeply distressed I was watching the programme that was broadcast on Monday and the articles that followed,” he said.


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