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Welsh Rugby Union sorry for ‘toxic’ work environment

The Welsh Rugby Union has apologised after an independent review found the organisation an “unforgiving, even vindictive” place to work for some employees.

The workplace environment was described as having elements of bullying and discrimination and being “toxic” to some of the over 50 witnesses or groups of witnesses who contributed to the report.

An independent review was commissioned in January this year after a BBC Wales investigation uncovered allegations of racism, sexism, misogyny and homophobia.

Former chief executive, Steve Phillips, quit within days of the programme airing.

“We are truly sorry to those who have been impacted by the systems, structures and conduct described in the report which are simply not acceptable,” said WRU chair Richard Collier-Keywood.

“For anyone who cares about rugby in Wales it is a very difficult read and it is a particularly difficult read if you work at the WRU.”

Interviewees included past and present players from both the amateur and professional games, senior and junior staff and directors, as well people at professional and amateur clubs.

The panel also met a range of external stakeholders, including sponsors and public bodies.

The review makes 36 recommendations in all, covering governance, complaints handling, the union’s approach to inclusion and diversity and investment in the women’s game.

Incoming chief executive Abi Tierney, who takes up her role in January, promised to implement all the recommendations.

“The review’s report is incredibly humbling and describes issues, actions and attitudes that are hugely regrettable. They should not exist in our, nor any, workplace,” she said.

“We will implement all of the recommendations the independent review panel has made. My colleagues have committed to doing this and I commit to doing this too.

“But we will also go deeper than this. We will take what the review has found to heart and not only fix the issues identified but also to build a culture and values that we can all be proud of.”

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