Welsh Rugby Union: Independent taskforce members yet to be announced


Dame Anne Rafferty
Dame Anne Rafferty DBE PC, will head the independent review panel into the Welsh Rugby Union

The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) say members of a taskforce looking into the organisation will be confirmed shortly.

Former judge Dame Anne Rafferty is chairing an independent panel which will consider allegations of sexism and a toxic culture within the WRU.

Rafferty started her investigation on 13 February but the additional members are yet to be confirmed.

“We would hope to announce the full panel in the coming days,” said WRU acting chief executive Nigel Walker.

“Dame Anne Rafferty has been in the seat for a couple of weeks.

“There is one additional panel member, and we are waiting for the third to be confirmed.

“That doesn’t mean work isn’t going on, they are looking at documents.”

The group will be considering the period from 2017 to the present day, but the time frame may change depending on the evidence that comes to light.

In particular, the taskforce will be asked to consider:

  • Behaviour at all levels of the sporting organisation
  • How comfortable staff feel raising concerns or challenging inappropriate and discriminatory language and behaviour
  • The effectiveness of the WRU’s whistleblowing policies and procedures
  • Action taken by the WRU in response to the concerns raised in a BBC investigation.

It came after two female former employees described a “toxic culture” within the governing body in a BBC Wales investigation programme.

Among them, former head of Wales women’s rugby Charlotte Wathan said she considered suicide and claimed a male colleague joked in front of others in an office environment that he wanted to “rape” her.

Amanda Blanc, who chaired Welsh rugby’s professional board between 2019 and 2021, warned the WRU it had a problem before the sexism claims emerged.

Another former employee claimed to have heard a racist term used in a work meeting while MP and former Wales rugby player Tonia Antoniazzi said other women had also raised concerns with her.

The WRU said recommendations and findings from previous reviews will be used to inform the investigation, but the new taskforce will not be asked to duplicate work previously done.

The panel will produce a report and make recommendations which will be published in full.

Welsh rugby reform

The WRU has looked to initiate its own governance reform after calling an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on 26 March as they look to be given the powers to elect an independent chair.

The Union are proposing the composition of its board should include at least five women, while either the chief executive or the chair will also be female.

The proposals will double the number of independent representatives, who are appointed rather than elected, on the board from three to six and reduce the number of elected national or district members, elected from the WRU Council, from eight to four.

The WRU needs 75% of its member clubs, more than 300, to vote the proposals through.

Professional Rugby Board (PRB) chair and WRU board member Malcolm Wall told a Welsh regional supporters meeting he could quit and warned major sponsors like Principality would withdraw support if the changes were not voted for.

Walker has also previously provided a doomsday scenario for Welsh rugby if changes are not made.

“There’s a recognition across the entire game in Wales that governance changes are required,” added Walker.

“The current board recognises they are required. We’ve been out to the districts explaining those changes, and the support for those governance changes have been overwhelmingly positive.

“Nobody is taking anything for granted and on 26 March we need to make sure people vote the right way and those governance changes actually come about.”

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