Allegations of racism, sexism, misogyny and homophobia have been levelled at the Welsh Rugby Union; Steve Phillips, chief executive, has faced increased pressure and has stepped down, with performance director Nigel Walker stepping into the role.

Last Updated: 29/01/23 8:12am

Steve Phillips has faced increased pressure to step down as chief executive

Steve Phillips has faced increased pressure to step down as chief executive

Steve Phillips has resigned as chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) after accusations of misogyny, sexism, racism and homophobia were levelled at the governing body.

Phillips, 58, had been facing increased pressure over the WRU’s handling of issues raised by a BBC investigation, which featured former WRU employees.

During the investigation, one contributor said she had considered suicide as a result of her experiences, as two women complained of a “toxic culture” while another former employee alleged they heard a racist term used in a work meeting.

The Welsh Rugby Players Association said they were “appalled” by the claims, while Cardiff, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets backed calls by Hayley Parsons – the director of Cardiff – for Phillips and the WRU board to step down.

WRU chair Ieuan Evans had vowed that an external taskforce will be established to help tackle the allegations that have been made.

Phillips attended the meeting about the new taskforce but had since decided it was “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,” said Phillips.

“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.

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

“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.”

Performance director Nigel Walker will take over as acting chief executive with immediate effect.

“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,” Evans said.

Phillips was appointed to the role of CEO in March 2021, after taking it up on an interim basis in October 2020. Before that he was group finance director for 13 years.

The WRU said no allegations were made against Phillips in the documentary and that he was “not accused of any wrong doing”.

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