CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — The chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union quit Sunday amid allegations of a toxic culture at the organization.
Steve Phillips had resisted calls for his resignation, which came after a documentary aired allegations of misogyny, sexism, racism and homophobia at the governing body in Wales.
Former Olympic hurdler and Wales winger Nigel Walker has moved up from the union’s performance director to take the acting CEO position with immediate effect, and warned of an “existential crisis” for Welsh rugby.
A number of former WRU employees took part in an investigation by BBC Wales — which was screened Monday — containing accusations about their time at the organization.
WRU chair Ieuan Evans, another former international player, said an external task force will be established to help tackle the allegations that have been made. On Friday, the Welsh Rugby Players Association sent an open letter to Evans demanding that “the WRU and its leadership truly takes responsibility for living up to the inclusive values that rugby claims to pride itself on.”
Phillips attended the meeting about the new task force, and has now decided it is “time for someone else to lead the way.”
“It is with a huge amount of regret that I have decided to hand in my resignation,” 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 behaviors at the WRU and fully support the formation of a new independent task force. I am pleased I have been able to start this process for the WRU.”
Walker was appointed performance director of the WRU in 2021.
“There is no doubt that Welsh rugby is facing an existential crisis,” Walker said. “This has been a wake-up call. Perhaps it is a call that has been overdue. The first step to any recovery is admitting the problem.
“We must now listen intently to what people from outside our organization 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.”
More AP rugby: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.