WRU chief executive Steve Phillips resigns as Nigel Walker stands in

The chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union Steve Phillips has resigned.

It follows allegations of misogyny and bullying within the WRU, which prompted calls for Phillips to leave his role.

WRU chair Ieuan Evans has appointed performance director Nigel Walker as acting CEO with immediate effect.

Evans and Phillips met with the Deputy Sport Minister and Sport Wales to discuss an investigation into culture and behaviours on Friday (January 27).

Ieuan Evans said Nigel Walker will work closely with an external taskforce to learn from the "serious and significant issues" the WRU faces.

Phillips said: "I have always had the best interests of Welsh rugby at the heart of my every action and thought, but have come to the conclusion that it is now time for someone else to lead the way.

"This is a sport I love and is so admired around the world and I wish everyone involved in the game every success and my heartfelt best wishes.

"I am absolutely aligned with Ieuan's commitment to re-examine and further improve the cultures and behaviours at the WRU and fully support the formation of a new independent Taskforce. I am pleased I have been able to start this process for the WRU.

"On a personal note, I wish Nigel Walker well and thank all of the dedicated staff at the WRU who can be extremely proud of the efforts and hard work they put in on a daily basis to the betterment of our game.

"I am on record already saying how much I hugely regret the feelings and emotions expressed recently by former members of staff."

'Nigel will set the path for social justice to thrive', leading equal rights campaigner Professor Uzo Iwobi says

A leading equal rights campaigner has praised the appointment of Nigel Walker as acting CEO.

Professor Uzo Iwobi, chief executive of Race Council Cymru, said: "In terms of Nigel Walker, yes good, he has the experience, he has the background, let's see how he delivers.

"Nigel will set the path for social justice to thrive, and for inclusion, for mutual respect and for equality, or rather equity, and fairness so that people can be themselves in the workplace."

Nigel Walker was appointed performance director of the Welsh Rugby Union in July 2021.

WRU chair Ieuan Evans explained: "I thank Steve for his dedication and support for Welsh rugby. He has made a significant contribution to our progress on the world stage in that time and most recently was instrumental in securing the return of Warren Gatland to the helm of the senior men's side.

"He also brought in Nigel Walker as our Head of Performance, as one of his first acts as CEO, which has led to the introduction of professional contracts for the Wales Women's squad and significant progression in the provision for the professional and amateur Women’s and Girls' game.

"He successfully guided Welsh rugby through the coronavirus pandemic and has secured a new six-year verbal agreement with the PRB (Professional Rugby Board) and a signed 'heads of terms' designed to ensure a sustainable future for our professional game.

"Nigel will work closely with the new Taskforce and help lead us through the next urgent steps, as we seek to learn from the current serious and significant issues we face."

Following his appointment, Walker explained: "There is no doubt that Welsh rugby is facing an existential crisis.

"We must now listen intently to what people from outside our organisation are telling us. We care and are committed to equality, diversity and inclusion and we work hard in this space with dedicated resource and investment.

"But we need to do better. We need to do much better and we will."

Commenting on the news that WRU chief executive Steve Philips has resigned, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies MS said: "There is no doubt that these appalling and substantial allegations have damaged the reputation of the WRU.

"I hope that with a change in leadership, the WRU can regain the trust of the people of Wales, behaviours can be reflected upon and that the organisation can begin to repair its image.

The party's Shadow Sports Minister, Tom Giffard MS, added: "The number one job for Nigel Walker, the new acting CEO, has got to be providing women and girls with that vital assurance that these allegations are being treated seriously.

"Action must be taken to ensure the integrity of the sport and its governing body. There should be no place in rugby for misogyny to be rearing its ugly head."