WRU Board to be completely overhauled after landmark vote

The meeting described as 'crucial' and a 'pivotal moment' during opening remarks. Credit: PA

The way Welsh rugby is run will be completely overhauled after landmark proposals were approved on Sunday afternoon.

At an Extraordinary General Meeting in Port Talbot, community clubs across Wales gave the green light for the structure of the WRU Board to be completely restructured.

As a result of the vote, a series of changes will now take place. The alterations to the 12-strong Board include:

  • The number of elected club officials reduces from eight to four.

  • The number of appointed independent directors increases from three to six.

  • There is an ambition that there will be at least five women on the Board.

  • The Chair of the Welsh Rugby Union can now be an independent person.

This was a seismic day for the WRU, with the meeting described as 'crucial' and a 'pivotal moment' during opening remarks.

Union chiefs believe the moves, which were backed unanimously by the current Board and then ratified at the Princess Royal Theatre, will now enable the Board to become fit to govern a circa £100 million business.

There were also warnings that some sponsors and key stakeholders could withdraw their financial support for the game in Wales if the proposals were rejected.

Prior to the meeting, over 70 clubs had publicly backed the motions but 75 percent of the vote share was needed.

When given the opportunity to speak, only two delegates took the microphone. Both backed the proposals. Nobody spoke out against them.

Of the 282 clubs across Wales, 252 voted on the proposals, with 79 being submitted via proxy forms.

There were 245 votes (97.22%) in favour of the resolution, only seven clubs voted against it.

The motion is significant because the community clubs no longer have a majority on the Board, which is why the issue has been so contentious for many years.

Clubs can still call an EGM if they do not approve of how the organisation is being run.

Chair Ieuan Evans will now stand down and his replacement will be appointed. The WRU has set a deadline of December 31 to revamp the Board, although there is hope that it will happen much sooner.

After the vote, Evans said: "I'm delighted with the support members have shown for the Board's recommendation today.

"We now have a line in the sand from which we intend to move forward purposefully, swiftly and better prepared to serve Welsh rugby's needs.

"This is another historic day in the 142-year history of the WRU.

"From this moment on we will be much better equipped to overcome any challenges we may face and I thank all members for giving us the tools to do a better job on their behalf.

"The repercussions of a positive vote today are nothing short of momentous and I am genuinely excited about the latent potential of our national game at all levels.

"We will draft in the very best talent to help our elected Board members. Each with a genuine and heartfelt, interest and love for our game.

"But also with the business expertise, varied skills and acumen to see Welsh rugby soar."

Interim CEO Nigel Walker added: "We hope to complete the process for change by December this year, but the first steps will be taken immediately.

"We need a new chair in place first and the recruitment process for INEDs, and of course any potential new CEO, will follow from there, with a natural stage at our AGM in November where the composition of our elected members will evolve due to a number reaching the end of their terms of office.

"This is just the beginning of a journey which will see the trust and faith of a nation in Welsh rugby restored and revitalised.

"There is a lot of hard work ahead of us but this is a genuinely uplifting moment in the history of our game."

Ratification of the proposals comes after a tumultuous start to 2023 for the WRU. In the last three months, there have been allegations of sexism and misogyny against the organisation by a former employee. The Union is now subject to an independent investigation off the back of those allegations.

Players have also experienced contractual chaos amid protracted talks between the WRU and the regions over a financial agreement. They came within a whisker of going on strike ahead of the clash with England during the Six Nations.

On the field, Wales slumped to fifth in the recent campaign, with the Rugby World Cup looming later this year.

The Union is engulfed in turmoil, but the vote to modernise the Welsh Rugby Union will be viewed as a small step in the right direction by those at the top of the organisation.