WRU governance to be 'improved irrevocably' after membership votes for change

By Sports Desk March 26, 2023

Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) members have voted overwhelmingly in favour of structural change to the governing body.

An extraordinary general meeting was called by the WRU on Sunday, with 282 clubs eligible to vote on proposals to reform how rugby union is run in Wales.

The EGM came after Wales players had threatened to strike ahead of their Six Nations match with England due to contractual disputes, while the organisation has also faced allegations of sexism and misogyny.

Those allegations resulted in the resignation of former chief executive Steve Phillips, with Nigel Walker stepping in on an interim basis.

Of the 252 votes cast at Sunday's EGM, 245 were in favour of the resolution to change the governing structure of the WRU. 

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  • 5 talking points as Scotland and England renew hostilities in Six Nations 5 talking points as Scotland and England renew hostilities in Six Nations

    Scotland and England renew hostilities when they meet in rugby’s oldest international fixture at Murrayfield on Saturday.

    For both sides it is win or bust in a critical Guinness Six Nations round-three clash that will shape their respective Championships.

    Here, the PA news agency looks at five talking points heading into the Edinburgh showdown.

    Furbank’s second coming

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    Steve Borthwick is capable of throwing curve balls in selection – think Marcus Smith at full-back, Alex Mitchell starting at scrum-half at the World Cup – and the latest example is George Furbank’s return at full-back. Freddie Steward controls the air against any opposition but Borthwick has cast aside England’s safety blanket in favour of a more natural ball player who will provide a counter-attacking threat and greater mobility in defence. Promoting Furbank is a bold call and even if the six caps won between 2020 to 2022 failed to provide compelling evidence of his Test pedigree, he is an exciting pick who has been on fire for Northampton this season.

    Heavyweights collide

    England take a more balanced backline to Edinburgh after recalling Ollie Lawrence at inside centre. For the first time in this Six Nations there will be genuine ball-carrying clout in midfield after Lawrence recovered from the hip injury that ruled him out of the wins against Italy and Wales. In the words of assistant coach Kevin Sinfield, the powerful Bath runner is “ready to kick the door down” and it will be hoped he can provide a counter weight to the similarly physical Sione Tuipulotu. It is a heavyweight collision that will influence the outcome of the match.

    Lopsided rivalry

    Scotland are odds-on favourites to retain the Calcutta Cup – and rightly so. They have won their last three Tests against the ‘Auld Enemy’, whose victory in 2020 is their only triumph in the last six meetings. The games have been ferociously competitive but Scotland are simply a better team, having turned a one-sided rivalry on its head. Defined by this fixture, these are the glory days for Scottish rugby and for a measure of England’s decline in recent years – finishing third at the 2023 World Cup aside – look no further than their recent struggles against their oldest foes.

    Moment of truth

    Gregor Townsend admitted that the history and emotion of a clash with England made it Scotland’s “most important game of the season”, but the head coach also knows that settling old scores is only part of the bigger picture. A golden generation in the nation’s rugby history, epitomised by their fly-half genius Finn Russell, is in danger of passing without winning any silverware and after the injustice of seeing a late match-winning try disallowed against France in round two, they can not afford any more slip ups. Time is running out for Russell’s Scotland to prove they are a serious team.

    Cautious optimism

    England arrive at Murrayfield with two wins in the bank and alongside Ireland they are the only unbeaten team left in the tournament. Coupled with their bronze medal finish at the World Cup and that should be cause for optimism when they face Scotland for the 142nd time. But a side in transition that is attempting to evolve its attack and get to grips with a new blitz defence has so far faced the Six Nations’ two weakest sides. The level of competition cranks up significantly on Saturday and while there is no danger of Borthwick’s resilient side being blown away, defeat would signpost another Championship of underachievement.

  • Andy Farrell will not underestimate Wales in Ireland’s Grand Slam bid Andy Farrell will not underestimate Wales in Ireland’s Grand Slam bid

    Andy Farrell is braced for a “war of attrition” against winless Wales and knows any hint of complacency could wreck Ireland’s pursuit of successive Grand Slam titles.

    The reigning Guinness Six Nations champions are overwhelming favourites to back up dominant bonus-point wins over France and Italy with another victory on Saturday afternoon in Dublin.

    Warren Gatland’s side arrive at a sold-out Aviva Stadium seeking to stave off the threat of the wooden spoon following narrow losses to Scotland and England.

    Ireland head coach Farrell acknowledges Wales could very easily have been in contention for a championship clean sweep of their own at this stage and is taking nothing for granted.

    “It’s certainly not how we view it,” he replied when asked about the visitors being written off. “We view them in the highest regard.

    “It’s a Test match. It’s a war of attrition and they’re going to give it absolutely everything they’ve got.

    “We’ve got to manage ourselves from the start of the game to the end in the best way possible because if we don’t we’ll come unstuck, there’s no doubt about that.”

    Wales have not won a Six Nations match in Dublin since 2012.

    Members of Gatland’s squad have spoken about a fast start being crucial to their chances of pulling off a shock success to snap that statistic.

    “We obviously know what they’ve been talking about, coming out of the blocks and causing chaos and we know it’s going to be a fight, we know they’re going to make it as tough as possible for us,” said Farrell.

    “But what we always concentrate on is ourselves and making sure that we put our game to the match, whoever it is that we’re playing.

    “We have full respect in regard to what Wales are going to bring because they’re always unbelievably hard to beat and we expect them to be chomping at the bit.

    “The two performances that they had (against Scotland and England), they could be coming here with two wins and no losses so we know exactly what we’re up against.”

    Ireland are bidding to extend their three-year winning run at home to 18 Tests and equal England’s record of 11 successive Six Nations victories.

    Farrell has triumphed in 23 of 24 matches on Irish soil during his reign, with a 15-13 loss to France in 2021 the only blemish.

    Speaking of the record, the Englishman said: “It’s amazing, isn’t it? It’s not something that I keep track of, all these bits.

    “’Breener’ (Peter Breen, IRFU communications manager) tells me them every week but they just roll over my head because it’s always just about the performance and getting the best out of ourselves and trying to be better the whole time.

    “That’s what drives us more than anything.

    “I suppose if you have that type of mentality hopefully things will chug along in the right direction but it’s nice to be told these things on the periphery, so that you’re aware of the progress that you’re making.”

  • Jamie George takes inspiration from his late mother for Scotland clash Jamie George takes inspiration from his late mother for Scotland clash

    Jamie George will draw inspiration from the heartwarming thought that his late mother will be watching down on him as he prepares to lead England into Saturday’s Calcutta Cup showdown with Scotland just over a week after her death.

    The 33-year-old Saracens hooker found out on the same day that he was appointed captain of the Red Rose last month that his mum Jane had been diagnosed with cancer. Her situation deteriorated quickly and she died last Wednesday.

    George takes some solace from the fact a woman he described as “the biggest rugby fan on earth” was able to see her boy skipper his country for two matches, the Guinness Six Nations victories over Wales and Italy.

    “We’ve been going through a lot as a family for a long period,” he said, speaking with remarkable composure about his ordeal from England’s team hotel in Edinburgh city centre on Thursday evening.

    “The deterioration she had was really fast. I found out on Sunday about the fact that she was terminal, and she passed away on Wednesday [last week].

    “My mum was the biggest rugby fan on earth, she loved this team, loved watching me play, she never missed a game.

    “The text I’ve got from her before my first game as captain is something I will treasure forever. She said it was the proudest day of her life so given what she was going through, to still be able to put a smile on her face was huge.”

    George was adamant he did not want to excuse himself from England duty. He turned up on the Friday after his mum’s death to participate in an open training session at Twickenham and had no doubt in his mind that he wanted to lead his team into battle with Scotland.

    George’s father, his brothers, his uncle and his cousin will be at Murrayfield for what he hopes will be a cathartic experience for the family amid the trauma.

    “Taking time off is the last thing she would have wanted me to do,” said George. “It’s not what I wanted to do.

    “I feel very privileged to do what I do and hopefully the boys will agree that I’ve been able to fulfil my role as captain and fulfil my role as a player in this team.

    “It’s not an ideal situation to be in, but there was never any doubt in my mind that I wanted to be involved in this game.

    “Wherever she is now, she will be looking down telling everyone that is there that her son is the England captain. I know for a fact that meant a huge amount to her.

    “Whenever I’ve played, I’ve always wanted to make my family proud. It’s been a huge driver for me. That won’t change this weekend – it will probably be enhanced this weekend.

    “It will be emotional for me coming out. It will be the first game that she won’t be there. She wasn’t able to come to the first two games to watch, which has been tough in itself, but before that she was always there, she never missed it.

    “My dad, my uncle, my cousin and both brothers are coming up this weekend. It’s going to be great for them to be able to be there. It’s amazing what rugby can do in situations like this.

    “When I first became captain, I spoke a lot about showing how much it means to play for England and what an amazing impact you can have on people’s lives.

    “I have seen it first-hand because my mum was on her death bed talking about the England rugby team and how proud she was of me being able to do what I do.

    “That’s absolutely incredible. She will be with me in some capacity on Saturday and that means a huge amount to me.”

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