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Former First Minister Carwyn Jones interviewed for top WRU job

11 Jun 2023 4 minute read
Former First Minister Carwyn Jones. Picture: National Assembly.

Martin Shipton

Former First Minister Carwyn Jones has been interviewed for the role of chair of the Welsh Rugby Union, we can reveal.

The WRU is in turmoil following recent revelations about a culture of misogyny within the organisation, and there is a general understanding that it has lacked firm leadership.

Supporters of Mr Jones believe he is the individual who could restore respect to the organisation.

But it is by no means certain that he will be appointed to the post.

One Welsh rugby source told us: “Everyone knows how important the WRU is in Wales. It is deeply entrenched in Welsh identity.

“But recent revelations have been devastating to its reputation and it is now vital that it has someone at the helm with the experience to provide strong leadership.

“As the former First Minister, no one is better qualified for such a role than Carwyn Jones. He ran a country for nearly a decade and who can doubt that he is up to the task of running Welsh rugby?

“The WRU should move ahead and appoint him as soon as possible.”


A BBC Wales TV investigation broadcast last January aired allegations of sexism and discrimination that led to the MP and former Wales international Tonia Antoniazzi expressing “great concerns” over the women’s game in the country.

A number of former WRU employees took part in the programme, making accusations about their time at the governing body.

Charlotte Wathan, the general manager of women’s rugby until her resignation in February 2022, claimed offensive comments by a colleague left her in tears and feeling sick. Another, unnamed, contributor said she was left contemplating suicide by her experiences of bullying and sexism at work. Incidents of racism and homophobia were also alleged.

One of Ms Wathan’s ex-colleagues was said to have “joked” about wanting to rape her.

In the wake of the allegations, the WRU’s chief executive Steve Phillips resigned.

Former Wales international Nigel Walker took over as interim CEO, with former Wales captain as chair.

The pair appeared before a Senedd committee and apologised to members for the organisation having been in denial about its toxic culture. They undertook to implement all of the recommendations made by a taskforce established under Dame Anne Rafferty to report on “the organisational culture and behaviour within the WRU” from 2017 to the present day.

In March this year Welsh rugby clubs voted in favour of major changes to the governance of the game in the country.

Of the 252 votes, 245 were in favour of the resolution, with seven votes against it.

Speaking at the vote, Ieuan Evans called the result ‘momentous’, saying ‘it will go down in Welsh rugby history’.

The changes were designed to modernise the WRU to include more expertise, knowledge and diversity to help run a business with a nearly £100m annual turnover.

Board structure

The primary changes involved changes to the board structure, doubling the number of independent members on the board from three to six. This included the introduction of an independent WRU chair for the first time.

At the time Mr Evans said: “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.

“Members have taken the opportunity to pay something forward of huge significance to our great rugby-playing country’s children… and its children’s children.

“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.”

We can reveal that Carwyn Jones has applied for the post of independent Chair.

When we spoke to him, he declined to comment.

Mr Jones, who is himself a huge rugby fan, worked as a barrister and law lecturer before being elected to the then National Assembly in 1999.

He represented Bridgend from then until 2021 and was First Minister from 2009 until 2018.

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1 year ago

Is it 1st of April again?

Roger Price
Roger Price
1 year ago

Pob lwc Carwyn. Pwyntiad da tybiwn i. Good luck Carwyn. Good appointment I’d say.

1 year ago

Ah, so the English looking to take complete control huh? Having an English Patron is no longer enough. I’ve been saying for months how taking over all the infrastructure within Wales is key to securing Their Union.

The Original Mark
The Original Mark
1 year ago
Reply to  Riki

I always find it interesting looking at Welsh utilities and national parks and other groups including sports bodies, that have an effect on day to day life in Wales and seeing how many of the CEO’s and committee members have links to Westminster/Whitehall, I think it’s safe to say the “take over” has already happened, we just can’t see it yet.

Julie Jones
Julie Jones
1 year ago

This would be an excellent appointment. Do the right thing WRU!

Diawl Blin
Diawl Blin
1 year ago

Not sure the families of Carl Sargeant’s victims would see Carwyn Jones as the ideal person to oversee an institution riddled with sexual harassment

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