The WRU is undertaking a period of transition with the recently announced departure of three Executive Board members where we must continue to plan for the future.
It was confirmed last week that our Operations Director, Julie Paterson, will be leaving her role after more than 30 years of service with the WRU. She leaves with our full support, we wish her well and we look forward to continuing to work closely with Julie in her new role as director of rugby for the Six Nations.
Julie’s announcement, together with the recent departure of our Performance Director, Ryan Jones, provides us with the opportunity to revisit how best we deliver the WRU Strategy in this very important area of our game. We’ll explore different structures and options available to us and, once agreed, then select a candidate or candidates to execute the agreed strategy.
The third member of the Executive Board to be leaving us will be our Commercial Director, Craig Maxwell, who is also heading to the Six Nations. Craig will leave us sooner than Julie – who will assist the handover during the six- month notice period – so I can confirm that our commercial affairs will, on an interim basis, come under the charge of Rhodri Lewis, our current Group General Counsel.
We are also delighted to confirm we will be offering Gethin Jenkins the position of defence coach with the Wales national side. We are in the process of putting the paperwork in place to confirm the appointment but are happy to share the news that Gethin is Wayne Pivac’s chosen candidate after an excellent performance in the role during the recent Autumn Nations Cup.
Finally, there are a number of other ‘live’ issues currently being discussed in global rugby circles and, of course, a key focus for us will continue to be the return to play of our community game. These issues are challenging and include the Global Season, the potential of private equity investment in the Six Nations, the British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa, the evolution of the PRO14 plus the increased pandemic protocols now expected of us to allow the forthcoming Six Nations tournament to be played. I will continue to keep those with a vested interest in our game up to date as and when Welsh Rugby has important and relevant contributions to share on these issues.
In this our first Status Update of 2021 I would like to repeat my promise to you, our member clubs, the lifeblood of Welsh Rugby, to keep you regularly updated on all matters as we face the challenges of the year ahead together.
Yours in rugby Steve Phillips.
Back in the game
If you have lost work due to the pandemic and have a connection to Welsh rugby the School of Hard Knocks (SOHK) is here to help. We have teamed up with the SOHK charity to help individuals get ‘Back in the Game’ and into employment. The SOHK charity has a team of experts who will deliver a series of free, intensive courses, run online and new course dates have been announced in February and April. The course is suitable for anyone connected with Welsh rugby who has been made redundant due to the covid pandemic – male or female players, coaches, referees, volunteers or parents of players. This course could give members of the rugby family the boost they need to bounce back into the job market.
More recognition for WRU disability rugby provision
Welsh rugby has made great strides in its efforts to become more inclusive towards young people and adults with additional needs, even with the challenges 2020 has brought. WRU Disability Rugby coordinator Darren Carew has provided a series of Jersey For All (at home) videos packed with activities to do in your home or garden, the first WRU Inclusion Coaching Conference was held – online – and the Union has now been shortlisted for Disability Sport Wales’ Insport Organisation of the Year Award. Due to the current restrictions, the awards will now take place later in the year, watch this space.
Having launched its first Disability Rugby strategy in 2018 and achieved Disability Sport Wales’ insport ribbon and bronze equality awards the same year, the Welsh Rugby Union gained the silver standard last November 2019 and is now going for gold. READ all about WRU’s Disability Rugby progress.