The four Welsh regions have endorsed calls made by Cardiff director Hayley Parsons for Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Steve Phillips and its board to resign.
Cardiff, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets have backed an email written by Parsons which, according to BBC Wales, was sent to WRU chairman and Welsh rugby legend Ieuan Evans after allegations of sexism, racism and misogyny within the organization came to light.
Parsons described this as a “long-standing and deep-rooted culture of toxicity and bullying within the WRU” and urged the union to “take immediate and decisive action to address the issues”.
The pressure on Phillips has increased since the claims were aired on a BBC Wales Investigates program this week, but the 58-year-old has not considered his position after receiving backing from Evans. However, the chairman did confirm that an external investigation of the organization would take place.
In the email to Evans, Parsons – who founded the insurance website GoCompare, later selling her stake for almost £44million – described herself as a “business professional and entrepreneur, who founded a multimillion-pound business that remains in Wales”.
Parsons who, in 2019, became the first woman to join Cardiff’s board, added: “In my role at Cardiff Rugby, I constantly witness and have to deal with the fallout of incompetence at the Welsh Rugby Union.
“I believe the board, in its current state, does not possess the expertise and experience to run the WRU, which is essentially a £100m company.
“As a group of individuals, they are not fit for purpose, and the future of Welsh rugby requires people with the ability and experience to turn this urgent and dire situation around.
“Many people have told me first-hand about the culture of bullying and manipulation within the WRU.
“How many more experienced, professional and good people need to leave Welsh rugby before you take action and say enough is enough?” added Parsons. “I am pleading with you to make the right decision for the WRU, as a business and for rugby as our national sport.
“As regional clubs we hold back on a range of issues, too scared to go against the Union.
“Yet still, despite allegation after allegation, mistake after mistake, sacking after sacking, statement after statement, denial after denial, the WRU does not appear to have modern governance structures or a proper strategic business plan in place to affect positive change and nurture rugby at a regional, never mind national level.”
Evans said in a statement: “I thank Hayley for her constructive and heartfelt comments and I will not only write back in detail but intend to meet up in person just as I will with a number of different stakeholders from outside of the WRU.
“We are not deaf to the observations and criticisms we are receiving and we must re-examine, re-evaluate, act decisively where we find wrong-doing, and move forwards. We will do this together, we take responsibility together. We will also seek outside influence and counsel as well as looking within to the likes of our independent Board directors as Hayley suggests.
“We will use the pressure we are under now, the pressure we have drawn on ourselves, to get better, to improve. I will not waver from this task.”