WRU: New boss Nigel Walker accepts trust in organisation lost after misogyny allegations

The new Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) boss said he accepts that some trust has been lost and the credibility of the organisation damaged in the wake of allegations of misogyny within the body.

Nigel Walker, former Wales international and WRU Performance Director, has taken over as acting chief executive of the WRU following the resignation of Steve Phillips on Sunday.

WRU chair Ieuan Evans appointed him as acting CEO with immediate effect, until the WRU appoints a long-term successor for the role. Walker said he imagines this will mean he will be in the temporary position for four to six months.

Mr Walker said it would be "foolish" of him not to admit that the credibility of the WRU had been negatively affected and mistakes made, but the body is trying "to put those mistakes right."

Sport Wales will now be overseeing an investigation in to the culture at the WRU. Credit: PA Images

Speaking to ITV Wales, Walker said: "I'd be foolish if I stood here and said some of the trust in the Welsh Rugby Union has not been lost and that our credibility hasn't been reduced - of course it has.

"The important thing is to accept that we've made mistakes and then to try to put those mistakes right.

"We've said that we cannot do it on our own, we'll do it more quickly and more effectively if we ask for outside help and that's what we've done.

"I think we need to be open and transparent, accept that we're not where we need to be as a governing body, as an organisation.

"We've got cultural problems and the first stage in putting those problems right is to accept that you have issues, which is why the task force has been announced."

With regards to the independent external task force that has been set up to help reform the WRU, Nigel Walker said the body will commit to "acting on the recommendations given".

Sport Wales has stepped in to oversee the investigation and recruit key external personnel to the panel who will carry it out.

Meetings are set to take place this week to help establish the remit of that investigation, although Walker said it will start with looking at the culture within the WRU but "may get wider than that".

When asked if the findings of that investigation will be made public, Walker said he was unsure but the WRU will accept advice given by those external people working through Sport Wales.

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Speaking to BBC's Scrum V programme last night (Sunday 29 January), Walker expressed "remorse" over the organisation's handling of allegations of bullying and sexism and offered an apology for "those employees who went through what they went through".

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."

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