WRU vows to change culture after report finds 'toxic' environment
Welsh Rugby Union vows to overhaul its entire culture after report finds there had been a ‘toxic’ environment and ‘elements of bullying and discrimination’ went unchecked
- A review panel looking into the Welsh Rugby Union produced a 134-page report
- The report found there to be a ‘toxic’ workplace environment at the WRU
- ‘Elements of bullying and discrimination’ within the WRU also went unchecked
The Welsh Rugby Union has pledged to overhaul its entire culture after a report found that it had been a ‘toxic’ environment where ‘elements of bullying and discrimination’ went unchecked.
A review panel chaired by Dame Anne Rafferty has produced a 134-page report which details the rotten state of the governing body in Wales before a BBC documentary exposed the problems early this year.
Following the programme, which revealed allegations of racism, sexism, misogyny and homophobia, the WRU launched an independent inquiry which has delivered a damning verdict and 36 recommendations – all of which the union have committed to implement.
Having consulted more than 50 witnesses, or groups of witnesses, the panel concluded: ‘The work environment had elements of bullying and discrimination and was experienced as toxic by some employees. They found working at the WRU stressful, with a sense of powerlessness and even fear.
‘People told us of being burnt out, having anxiety and suffering mental health issues. An unusual number worried about the consequences were their identity revealed. Some were players concerned about team selection, but the concern from the majority was that the WRU can be unforgiving, even vindictive.’
The WRU had pledged to overhaul its culture after a report found that it had been a ‘toxic’ environment where ‘elements of bullying and discrimination’ went unchecked
Former WRU chief executive Steve Phillips resigned days after the BBC revelations were aired
Former Welsh women’s rugby manager Charlotte Wathan, revealed that an unnamed colleague said in front of other staff that he wanted to ‘rape’ her
The former manager of Welsh women’s rugby, Charlotte Wathan, revealed in the BBC documentary that a male colleague said in front of other staff that he wanted to ‘rape’ her.
There were countless examples of sexism at the WRU, with the report highlighting how one female staff member was the victim of gossip about how she had ‘slept her way to the top’, use of the phrase ‘sugar t**s’ and discriminatory comments about women in same-sex relationships.
The-then WRU chief executive, Steve Phillips, resigned days after the BBC revelations were aired and his incoming replacement – Abi Tierney – offered a frank response to the panel report, which also identified over-use of non-disclosure agreements and a lack of transparency at the union.
‘The independent review’s report is incredibly humbling and describes issues, actions and attitudes that are hugely regrettable,’ she said.
‘They should not exist in our, nor any, workplace. As leaders of the organisation, we wholeheartedly condemn the attitudes and issues described. We will implement all of the recommendations the Independent Review panel has made.’
The recommendations relate to governance, the handling of complaints, diversity and inclusion, and investment in female rugby.
There was a formal apology from WRU chairman Richard Collier-Keywood, who said: ‘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. We have to do better, and we will.’
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