Abi Tierney ‘a major coup for Welsh rugby’ after becoming WRU chief executive

By Sports Desk August 17, 2023

Abi Tierney has been appointed the first female chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union.

Tierney will join the WRU before the end of 2023 after serving notice at the Home Office, where she is the director general for customer services and ethics advisor and chair of their people committee.

Her appointment comes nearly seven months after Steve Phillips resigned as WRU chief executive amid allegations of a “toxic culture” at the organisation.

“Abi’s appointment is a major coup for Welsh rugby,” said Richard Collier-Keywood, who succeeded former Wales wing Ieuan Evans as WRU chair last month.

“She has worked successfully across the private and public sectors in delivering commercial value and improving the culture of some complex organisations.

“The role of the WRU is to support and serve Welsh rugby across our elite teams to our 270 community clubs.

“Her mantra of ‘putting customers at the heart of everything we do’ bodes well for the many fans of rugby in Wales.

“I believe Abi will make a major contribution to our enjoyment of all aspects of the game in Wales. I am delighted she has decided to join us.”

Welsh rugby was rocked in January by a BBC documentary which aired allegations of racism, misogyny, sexism and homophobia at the WRU.

A committee of Senedd members noted in June that the WRU was responsible for a “serious failure of governance” and missed opportunities to act on concerning behaviour within the organisation.

Tierney will take over from interim chief executive Nigel Walker, the former Olympic hurdler and Wales international who will now become the WRU’s first director of rugby.

Tierney said: “The opportunity to lead the Welsh Rugby Union is an immense privilege and I relish the chance to make a lasting positive difference at such a critical time.

“My passion and commitment for this role is unquestionable and I feel a huge sense of pride having grown up in a family where my dad is from Barry and where rugby has been a constant and positive force in our lives.

“Rugby has the ability to enable life chances and develop people on and off the pitch. In this role, I intend to take that heritage and the skills and learning I have gathered in my career to deliver the significant cultural advancement Welsh rugby deserves. I have a track record in positively shaping an organisation’s culture.

“I am an inclusive leader and I will do my utmost to promote belonging, trust, understanding and mutual support at all levels in Welsh rugby.

“Alongside Richard as chair, Nigel in his new and vitally important role as director of rugby and my colleagues on the board, and the rest of the executive staff, we will realise the full potential of Welsh rugby in the years ahead and I look forward to the challenge.”

Tierney will join a revamped board which already includes new independent non-executive director Alison Thorne, with Chris Morgan standing down to allow the move.

The WRU says its stated – and member approved – ambition to ensure that at least 40 per cent of its 12-person board should be women remains on course.

Recruitment is ongoing for a further INED appointment, as well as a board member with specific responsibility for the women’s game and further elections for new council members are taking place this summer.

Related items

  • Six uncapped players make England squad for Japan, New Zealand Tests Six uncapped players make England squad for Japan, New Zealand Tests

    England coach Steve Borthwick has named six uncapped players in his squad for their summer internationals against Japan and New Zealand. 

    England face Japan in Tokyo on June 21 in their first outing since the Six Nations, then take on the All Blacks on July 6 and July 13.

    Harlequins prop Fin Baxter and centre Luke Northmore, Sale pair Joe Carpenter and Tom Roebuck, Bristol's Gabriel Oghre and Northampton's Ollie Sleightholme are all included.

    Having named a 36-man squad, England will train at Twickenham on Tuesday before flying out to Japan to prepare for their opening Test.

    "The Summer Series presents a valuable opportunity for the continued development of this squad and is a demanding challenge to conclude the season," Borthwick said.

    "The National Stadium in Tokyo is an incredible venue for Test match rugby, and we will need to be at our very best against a Japanese team who will want to play fast.

    "New Zealand's home record is well documented, and we face a team who came within one point of winning a World Cup.

    "The players know that they will need to be mentally strong and tactically smart if we are to get the result we want."

    Full England squad: Fin Baxter, Dan Cole, Alex Coles, Chandler Cunningham-South, Ben Curry, Tom Curry, Theo Dan, Alex Dombrandt, Ben Earl, Charlie Ewels, Jamie George (c), Joe Heyes, Maro Itoje, Joe Marler, George Martin, Gabriel Oghre, Bevan Rodd, Ethan Roots, Will Stuart, Sam Underhill, Joe Carpenter, Fraser Dingwall, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, Tommy Freeman, George Furbank, Ollie Lawrence, Alex Mitchell, Luke Northmore, Harry Randall, Tom Roebuck, Henry Slade, Ollie Sleightholme, Fin Smith, Marcus Smith, Ben Spencer, Freddie Steward.

  • All Blacks captain Cane to retire from international rugby All Blacks captain Cane to retire from international rugby

    New Zealand captain Sam Cane has announced he will retire from international rugby at the end of 2024, having agreed a three-year contract with Japan Rugby League One team Tokyo Sungoliath.

    Cane made his All Blacks debut in 2012 and has represented his country 95 times, including through the team's triumphant run at the 2015 World Cup.

    The flanker succeeded Kieran Read as captain in 2020, though his most recent international outing ended with him suffering the ignominy of becoming the first man to be sent off in a Rugby World Cup final, as New Zealand were beaten by South Africa last year.

    Cane will be eligible to represent the All Blacks through the second half of 2024 after returning from an initial spell in Japan but will then head there permanently after New Zealand Rugby agreed to release him from his contract. 

    "A good opportunity came my way with Sungoliath willing to offer me a three-year contract," Cane said. "I had to weigh up everything and, in the end, with a young family it seemed like the best decision to help set us up for our future.

    "I had my time as captain and it was a huge honour and privilege. If I'm fortunate enough to be selected for the All Blacks this year then I'll still be myself. 

    "I love that team, and if part of my role is contributing leadership-wise, I'll be happy to support the new captain as best I can to help with a speedy transition."

  • Rees-Zammit relishing Mahomes advice as former rugby star eyes spot on Chiefs roster Rees-Zammit relishing Mahomes advice as former rugby star eyes spot on Chiefs roster

    Louis Rees-Zammit has likened Patrick Mahomes to an extra coach as he looks to make an impact in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs.

    Rees-Zammit shocked rugby union fans in January when he announced he was turning his back on the sport to enter the NFL's International Player Pathway programme. 

    He was signed by two-time defending Super Bowl champions Kansas City in March and is now looking to earn a place on their roster for 2024, learning the role of running back at the Chiefs' rookie minicamp after attending another training camp alongside Mahomes. 

    Rees-Zammit has made sure to pick the brains of Mahomes, who has led the Chiefs to six straight AFC Championship games and won three Super Bowl rings since being drafted in 2017.

    "It was amazing, all the quarterbacks and receivers were there, we were running routes, we were working in the gym", Rees-Zammit said of his experience at that camp in Texas.

    "It was a great two weeks, I definitely learned a lot with Pat and the other boys."

    Asked if Mahomes was acting like an extra coach, he said: "100 per cent. 

    "I'm new to the game so I'm trying to pick everyone's brains and try and pick up the sport as quick as possible because I want to be out there playing.

    "The way I can do that is picking the brains of everyone that's currently here and trying to learn the game as quickly as possible."

    Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has been impressed by Rees-Zammit's attitude, saying: "He's so diligent with everything and wants to be so good at everything. I appreciate that. 

    "I like the fact he's got shorter steps initially, that's a good thing as a running back. If you're a long strider in there you've got to really work on making it through those tight adjustments you have to make. He seems to have a nice feel."
     

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.