Ben Earl will be available for the start of England’s Six Nations campaign after Saracens received a positive update on his knee problem.

Earl sustained the injury to his right leg during the warm-up for Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership victory over Harlequins and left The Stoop on crutches, raising concerns that he might be facing a lengthy spell out.

But a scan has revealed medial meniscus damage which has now been repaired and England’s star of the recent World Cup should be back in action for Saracens in January.

“Ben had a minor knee procedure this morning. We anticipate he’ll be out for between four to six weeks. Overall I think that would be a good result,” director of rugby Mark McCall said.

Eddie Jones was announced as England’s first ever overseas rugby union head coach on this day eight years ago.

The Australian took the role on a four-year deal starting in December 2015.

Jones, a former Australia and Japan coach, replaced Stuart Lancaster, who paid the price when England became the first host nation to be eliminated from the group stage in a dismal Rugby World Cup campaign.

As part of Jones’ negotiations with the Rugby Football Union, compensation had to be paid to the Stormers for the early release from his long-term contract with the Cape Town-based Super Rugby franchise.

“The opportunity to take the reins in possibly the world’s most high-profile international rugby job doesn’t come along every day,” said Jones, who had guided Japan to a remarkable victory over South Africa in their opening World Cup Pool B fixture.

“I’m now looking forward to working with the RFU and the players to move beyond the disappointment England suffered at the World Cup and hope to build a new team that will reflect the level of talent that exists within the English game.

“I believe the future is bright for England.”

Under Jones’ leadership, England went on to complete a first Grand Slam in 13 years as they claimed the 2016 Six Nations title and then secured a 3-0 Test series victory in Australia.

England beat New Zealand to reach the 2019 World Cup final in Japan, where they were defeated by South Africa, while they were also Six Nations champions in 2017 and 2020.

Jones was sacked in December 2022 after a poor run of results.

Former England international Ugo Monye was left “so fed up” after being subjected to the “most blatant racism” he has heard from a supporter as he left Sunday’s match between Exeter and Gloucester.

The 40-year-old ex-Harlequins player, now a pundit, said the incident occurred as he was leaving Sandy Park on Sunday afternoon following the Chiefs’ 25-24 Gallagher Premiership victory.

Monye wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that as he was leaving the stadium, one supporter running through crowd repeatedly shouted a racist insult. He added: “Disgraceful. Not a single person said a word, challenged or even reported it.

“He walks off after a mild scuffle and fans are now telling me ‘We’re with you’ B******S you’re with me. You weren’t with me when you saw and heard the most blatant racism I’ve seen from a supporter at a live game. So fed up.”

Exeter swiftly issued a statement vowing to investigate the matter and apologising to Monye.

It read: “In light of recent accusations regarding an incident of racist abuse at Sandy Park following the conclusion of our victory over Gloucester in the Gallagher Premiership, Exeter will be launching a full investigation.

“This behaviour will not be tolerated at our rugby club, and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms.

“Our team will begin to review CCTV footage from the stadium immediately in an attempt to identify the individual in question and we would like to extend our sincerest apologies to Ugo Monye, a member of the rugby community that is highly respected by everyone at our club.

“If anyone has any information regarding this incident we would ask you to get in touch with the Chiefs as soon as you can.”

Premiership Rugby also offered support to Monye and urged anyone with information to come forward.

Its statement read: “Premiership Rugby is aware of the accusations of racist abuse suffered by Ugo Monye at Sandy Park following the Exeter match against Gloucester.

“Premiership Rugby offers our full support to Ugo Monye and we stand united with our clubs and players in the fight against racism. Racism has absolutely no place in our game or society.

“Exeter have launched a full investigation and we urge anyone with any information to come forward.”

Saracens absorbed the loss of three England stars to put Harlequins to the sword in a 38-10 Gallagher Premiership victory at The Stoop.

Ben Earl and Elliot Daly were lost to respective knee and hamstring injuries during the warm-up and just seconds into the game Alex Lozowski was forced off after twisting awkwardly when chasing down Marcus Smith.

The champions took the disruption in their stride, however, as they amassed six tries in a London derby that lacked the spite seen in recent years, with Harlequins far too submissive against the league’s best side.

Both teams’ World Cup players were on parade and it was Maro Itoje who stood out among them, the lock catching the eye with a couple of big runs but also proving a handful at close quarters.

Marcus Smith and Alex Dombrandt did little to impress England head coach Steve Borthwick, who was watching from the stands, but the fault for a meek Harlequins performance was hardly theirs alone.

Saracens’ pack was typically menacing from start to finish and they supplied the opening try as part of a frantic opening with the excellent Juan Martin Gonzalez driving over from short range.

The champions frequently shuttled the ball across the field and with some success, forcing Quins to scramble out wide.

When the home ruck defence had gone missing near the centre of the pitch, Saracens reacted in a flash with Andy Christie stampeding into space only for the supporting Ivan van Zyl to cut an awkward supporting line.

Quins were breached too easily again on the half-hour mark when a counter attack launched by Alex Goode was given legs by Itoje and a phase later Olly Hartley had barged over.

A line-out drive finished by Jamie George provided Saracens’ next try as the hosts continued to be overpowered up front and as they trudged off for half-time 19-3 behind, there was no obvious way back.

Their outlook continued to deteriorate as Christie added a maul try soon after the interval, registering the bonus point, but only once Itoje had staged a marauding run.

Smith was trying his best to inspire a revival, on one occasion using his footwork to weave into space, and it took a try-saving tackle from Alex Lewington to stop Quins from scoring.

Pressure was building on the Saracens line but they weathered the storm, advanced downfield and used a mixture of forward power and polished back play to cross through Tom Parton.

Lewington and Andre Esterhuizen exchanged tries and Saracens could have plundered one more late on but Tom Willis spilt the ball forward over the line following fine approach work by Gonzalez.

Exeter Chiefs captain Poppy Leitch wants her side to continue “moving in the right direction” as they prepare to compete in the inaugural Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby season.

PWR replaces the Premier 15s competition and starts on Saturday when Bristol Bears host Sale Sharks, while the Chiefs are in action against newcomers Leicester Tigers on Sunday.

The Chiefs will be aiming to bounce back from their Premiership final disappointment last season, where they lost 34-19 to Gloucester-Hartpury in June.

However, there is plenty still to cheer about for Exeter who have won two Allianz Cups and reached two consecutive league finals since their inception into the Premiership in 2020 – something Leitch admits is a “pinch yourself moment”.

“There are moments you have to pinch yourself to remind yourself about how far we’ve come in such a short period of time,” she told the PA news agency.

“But the exciting thing is, although we’ve had an exciting last three years, hopefully the next three years we have great player retention, people will still be playing at Sandy Park and these young faces playing in the cup and getting their Premiership debuts over the last couple of weeks are still very much part of Chiefs and we get that longevity of people’s careers while they represent what is such an amazing club.

“It’s a pinch yourself moment about how far we’ve come in a short period of time, but hopefully we continue to move in the right direction.”

Alongside playing for Chiefs, Leitch works as head coach of Exeter University Women’s Rugby Club and hopes that as the standard of Premiership rugby continues to improve players can eventually experience careers as professional athletes.

She said: “I think the next big thing is trying to get a large majority of players that are at Premiership clubs not on dual careers and being able to actually experience life as a proper female rugby professional athlete, which at the moment isn’t really the case across many of the squads.

“I suppose what drives me is probably how could you not try and get yourself into a Premiership environment that is the most up and coming, exciting women’s sport on the planet at the moment.

“I feel very fortunate to play in my hometown, I feel very fortunate to run out at Sandy Park, but I think the thing that kind of keeps you going when you work long hours then go to training and play high quality games at the weekend, is that everybody around you is challenging you to do better.

“I think that’s a really enticing part of the Premiership is each year the level of play increases massively, the standard increases massively and that in itself is usually motivating and engaging.”

Following their successful application to join PWR, Ealing Trailfinders are newcomers for this season and have made a number of top signings including England winger Abby Dow.

Canada’s Tyson Beukeboom is another of the new arrivals in west London and says the team are aiming to make their “own name”, kicking off with a home tie against Harlequins on Saturday.

“Being the underdog, which as a new team we’re going to be, kind of takes the pressure off,” Beukeboom told PA.

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“There isn’t a ton of expectation for us so we’re out to make our own name and see what we can do, which I think maybe can create some pressure within ourselves but from the outside there isn’t a ton of that expectation. We’re just excited to see what we can do.

“(Joining Ealing has) been amazing so far, it’s really fun coming into a new team and seeing what our team culture turns out to be. Meeting a whole bunch of new players and creating that family environment within a team.

“I think everyone’s really bought in and (Director of Women’s Rugby) Giselle (Mather) has done a really good job of creating that environment to have a successful team culture.”

Players from the Gallagher Premiership will be available for the start of the 2025 British and Lions tour and its build-up after a landmark agreement was struck between the league, the United Rugby Championship and the Lions.

As part of the arrangement, the Premiership final in June will be brought forward to enable those players involved to take a full part in the early stages of preparation for the visit to Australia.

In 2017 and 2021, clashes between the English league’s domestic showpiece and initial Lions training camps led to acrimony between the two.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland described dealing with the Premiership clubs as “a little bit like Brexit” three years ago, adding that 50-50 calls would likely go against English internationals due to their later release.

The staging of the Premiership final on the same day as the Lions’ warm-up clash with Japan in 2021 was a low point in the relationship, but they are now collaborating far more closely under the guidance of chief executives Simon Massie-Taylor and Ben Calveley.

The agreement will also result in the sharing of digital content, events and key announcements.

“We are thrilled to be working in partnership with Premiership Rugby and United Rugby Championship and want to thank them for their support in reaching this landmark agreement,” Lions boss Calveley said.

“Our relationship with the clubs – who are the guardians of all potential Lions – is critical to any success we have and we are committed to working with Premiership Rugby and United Rugby Championship in a spirit of collaboration.”

World Cup-winner Martin Johnson resigned from his role as England rugby union team manager on this day in 2011.

Johnson departed following a poor World Cup campaign, which was mired in controversy off the pitch and saw England exit in the quarter-finals in disappointing fashion to France.

Captain for England’s 2003 triumph, Johnson took on the manager role in 2008 despite no previous coaching experience and guided his country to the Six Nations title six months before a World Cup to forget in New Zealand.

England arrived with optimism, but struggled to a 13-9 victory over Argentina in their opener after a late try by Ben Youngs.

A four-point win over Scotland confirmed England’s passage into the last eight, but their luck ran out with another error-strewn display resulting in a 19-12 loss to France in the quarter-finals.

With Johnson’s contract due to expire before the end of the year and after a string of incidents involving his players in New Zealand, the ex-captain confirmed his resignation five weeks after their World Cup ended.

“I think it is in the best interests of both the England team and myself not to carry on,” Johnson said.

“While we’ve had our most successful season with 10 wins from 13, we are disappointed with how we ended it with the World Cup. I think it’s the right decision at this time

“The cycles are from World Cup to World Cup and you have to decide whether you are prepared to jump in for four years and wholly commit yourself to that job and weigh it up. I’m not.”

Incoming Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Abi Tierney has vowed to “turn this around” after a damning independent review brought an apology from the governing body.

Witnesses interviewed as part of Dame Anne Rafferty’s nine-month review of the union reported feelings of powerlessness and fear, with the WRU described in the review’s report as an organisation which was “unsure on its feet”.

The review was launched on February 13 following a BBC programme aired in January which reported allegations of racism, sexism, misogyny and homophobia connected to the WRU.

“If you look at the recommendations (36 were made by the review panel), I remain hugely optimistic about Welsh rugby. We now have a process to do this,” said Tierney, who takes up her post in January.

“We don’t have a choice. We’ve got to turn this around. What is the alternative? We are all committed to that.

“We will do this together. We will, because of the pain we are going through now and with gratitude to those who have spoken up and made us listen, become better.

“The fact that we have a report like this from an independent source identifying any issues and problems that exist in our culture is a great opportunity for us to transform the way we work.

“We can feel inspired that everything is out in the open. We can feel empowered that our people know they will be listened to and that we will act proportionately and appropriately to behaviour that is called out in the future.

“We will only improve if we do this together, if we listen – and not only listen, but hear – and if we act appropriately in response. The review and its recommendations will help us do that, but we must also be fully invested in the idea that we all need to evolve, change and progress together.”

Successful businesswoman Amanda Blanc stepped down from the WRU board and as chair of the Professional Rugby Board in November 2021. Her resignation letter and speech was featured in the report.

Blanc highlighted how saddened she was at the approach taken to the women’s game in Wales. She described a review into the women’s game as “verging on insulting towards women”.

Tierney added: “It (Blanc’s resignation comments) was the hardest part (of the review) as it was black and white that someone who wanted to contribute to Welsh rugby’s success…wasn’t listened to.

“I will make sure it won’t happen again under my leadership.”

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

WRU chair Richard Collier-Keywood said: “I want to start by saying again that on behalf of the whole WRU, 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.

Asked how he felt when he read the review, he continued: “I felt awful. I felt sad.

“I felt there were missed opportunities to avert what had happened. But I also felt committed to making a change. I felt the changes were really sensible. I suppose I felt it’s a good roadmap for us.

Interim WRU chief executive Nigel Walker added: “It wasn’t any easier reading this than watching the (BBC) programme in January.

“We’ve made progress in certain areas. At some stage, we will begin to throw forward and maybe look at this period as a watershed moment when the Welsh Rugby Union began to make the appropriate steps to be the governing body we want to be.

“I do believe we will look back and say that is the moment when we become a truly world-class body.”

On the women’s game in Wales, Walker said: “We clearly made mistakes. We didn’t recognise the importance of women’s rugby, not just in this country but around the world.

“I was recruited later on, and a lot of my interviews were spent talking about the women’s game, so clearly the penny had dropped.

“I was left in no doubt when I started that it would be a priority. Do we have a strategy? Well, it’s there in part and we will commit to it.”

Among changes already made by the WRU after backing from its member clubs include addressing gender imbalance on the board, and an appointed independent chair, rather than one elected by the clubs.

As for the WRU culture, its people director Lydia Stirling said: “We have been working really hard on the system and culture in place.

“We have been making it easier for staff to raise concerns and make them feel safe to talk openly. We’ve put an awful lot in place since then.

“We know there is more to do, but it doesn’t take away some of the groundwork in place to create a culture where you feel safe, supported and trusted.”

Incoming Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Abi Tierney has vowed to “turn this around” after the governing body apologised for a damning independent review.

Witnesses interviewed as part of Dame Anne Rafferty’s nine-month review of the union reported feelings of powerlessness and fear, with the WRU described in the review’s report as an organisation which was “unsure on its feet”.

The review was launched on February 13 following a BBC programme aired in January which reported allegations of racism, sexism, misogyny and homophobia connected to the WRU.

“If you look at the recommendations (36 were made by the review panel), I remain hugely optimistic about Welsh rugby. We now have a process to do this,” said Tierney, who takes up her post in January.

“We don’t have a choice. We’ve got to turn this around. What is the alternative? We are all committed to that.

“We will do this together. We will, because of the pain we are going through now and with gratitude to those who have spoken up and made us listen, become better.

“The fact that we have a report like this from an independent source identifying any issues and problems that exist in our culture is a great opportunity for us to transform the way we work.

“We can feel inspired that everything is out in the open. We can feel empowered that our people know they will be listened to and that we will act proportionately and appropriately to behaviour that is called out in the future.

“We will only improve if we do this together, if we listen – and not only listen, but hear – and if we act appropriately in response. The review and its recommendations will help us do that, but we must also be fully invested in the idea that we all need to evolve, change and progress together.”

Successful businesswoman Amanda Blanc stepped down from the WRU board and as chair of the Professional Rugby Board in November 2021. Her resignation letter and speech was featured in the report.

Blanc highlighted how saddened she was at the approach taken to the women’s game in Wales. She described a review into the women’s game as “verging on insulting towards women”.

Tierney added: “It (Blanc’s resignation comments) was the hardest part (of the review) as it was black and white that someone who wanted to contribute to Welsh rugby’s success…wasn’t listened to.

“I will make sure it won’t happen again under my leadership.”

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

WRU chair Richard Collier-Keywood said: “I want to start by saying again that on behalf of the whole WRU, 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.

Asked how he felt when he read the review, he continued: “I felt awful. I felt sad.

“I felt there were missed opportunities to avert what had happened. But I also felt committed to making a change. I felt the changes were really sensible. I suppose I felt it’s a good roadmap for us.

Interim WRU chief executive Nigel Walker added: “It wasn’t any easier reading this than watching the (BBC) programme in January.

“We’ve made progress in certain areas. At some stage, we will begin to throw forward and maybe look at this period as a watershed moment when the Welsh Rugby Union began to make the appropriate steps to be the governing body we want to be.

“I do believe we will look back and say that is the moment when we become a truly world-class body.”

On the women’s game in Wales, Walker said: “We clearly made mistakes. We didn’t recognise the importance of women’s rugby, not just in this country but around the world.

“I was recruited later on, and a lot of my interviews were spent talking about the women’s game, so clearly the penny had dropped.

“I was left in no doubt when I started that it would be a priority. Do we have a strategy? Well, it’s there in part and we will commit to it.”

Among changes already made by the WRU after backing from its member clubs include addressing gender imbalance on the board, and an appointed independent chair, rather than one elected by the clubs.

As for the WRU culture, its people director Lydia Stirling said: “We have been working really hard on the system and culture in place.

“We have been making it easier for staff to raise concerns and make them feel safe to talk openly. We’ve put an awful lot in place since then.

“We know there is more to do, but it doesn’t take away some of the groundwork in place to create a culture where you feel safe, supported and trusted.”

Fin Smith has set his sights on making his England debut next year knowing he has already caught the eye of Steve Borthwick.

Head coach Borthwick was present at Franklin’s Gardens to watch Smith orchestrate Northampton’s 34-19 Gallagher Premiership victory over Exeter on Sunday with a classy man of the match display.

Battered and bruised from taking on the Chiefs’ defence, the 21-year-old’s pain was eased by recognition from the man he must convince.

“I saw Steve on the big screen at one point and thought ‘oh s***!’. He dropped me a nice message after the game to say he thought it went well, which was good,” Smith said.

“I set out a few goals for myself at the start of the season and at the top of that list was getting a cap for England this season.

“It’s a cliché answer but I’ve got to make sure I’m doing well for my club and hopefully the recognition will come from Steve.”

Smith also qualifies for Scotland through his parents but has his heart set on playing for England having been included in the extended training squads for this year’s Six Nations and the World Cup.

Although a first cap is his immediate aim, he realises the presence of Owen Farrell, George Ford and Marcus Smith means that competition for the Red Rose number 10 jersey has never been fiercer.

“There are some brilliant fly-halves ahead of me in Owen, George and Marcus, but if the opportunity came I’d be delighted and more than ready to go,” said Smith, who joined Saints after Worcester’s financial collapse last season.

“I’ve got so many things I need to keep working at to get to the level of Owen, George and Marcus.

“I’ve just got to focus on playing well. Selection if I get picked would be great, if not I’ll just keep working hard. Hopefully I’ll get there eventually.”

Smith completed three weeks of the World Cup training camp before being cut from the squad when numbers were reduced, but he left with a clear picture of what he must do to challenge the current pecking order.

 

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“Steve has given me the feedback that I have a strong kicking game and I can manage a game quite well,” he said.

 

“The way we play at Northampton traditionally has been to move the ball and run a lot.

“Steve felt he hadn’t seen as much of my kicking game when I’ve been playing for Northampton so he’s challenged me to find ways to control matches with my kicking, while continuing to find space, which he thinks is one of my big strengths.

“So this season I’ve been working really hard to find a balance of when to run and do the stuff that people associate with Northampton, but when the opportunities aren’t there to put pressure on the opposition with a chip in behind or trying to find grass with my boot.”

The Welsh Rugby Union was an “unforgiving, even vindictive” environment to work in for some of its employees, an independent report has found.

Witnesses interviewed as part of Dame Anne Rafferty’s review of the union reported feelings of powerlessness and fear, with the WRU described in the review’s report as an organisation which was “unsure on its feet”.

The review was launched on February 13, following a BBC programme aired in January which reported allegations of racism, sexism, misogyny and homophobia connected to the WRU.

The union workplace “contained elements of bullying and discrimination” and was experienced as “toxic” by some employees, the Dame Rafferty report found.

The union’s leaders were criticised for “allowing problems to develop” and for having “a tendency to manage the problem rather than the underlying issue”,  it said.

The organisation’s former chief executive, Steve Phillips, quit within days of the BBC programme airing, with Abi Tierney’s appointment as his permanent successor confirmed in August. She takes up her role in January.

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.

“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,” the organisation’s chair Richard Collier-Keywood said in response to the report.

“It is clear that there were many opportunities to avert the serious problems described which were simply not taken.

“We have a lot of work to do to win back the trust of our colleagues our players, the volunteers who are the heart of our community game, and the supporters that buy tickets week in week out.”

Incoming chief executive Tierney said: “The independent 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.

“Of course, as leaders of the organisation, we will all wholeheartedly condemn the attitudes and issues described but we are equally aware that our response needs to be greater than this.

“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.”

Well over 50 witnesses or groups of witnesses were interviewed for the 134-page review. Interviewees included past and present players (amateur and professional), 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 work environment had elements of bullying and discrimination and was experienced as toxic by some employees,” the review states.

“They found working at the WRU stressful, with a sense of powerlessness and even fear. A small number of people were widely perceived as challenging, which tipped into bullying in some departments at some times.”

One witness quoted in the review said: “I don’t know who to trust. I feel like I’m not being 100 per cent true to myself because there are things that I’d want to call out, address or bring up but I felt vulnerable because I don’t trust people.”

The report added: “There were two striking and unusual aspects to this review.

“The first was how many people had experienced great stress from their connection with the WRU.

“We were surprised both by the number experiencing stress, but also by the intensity and duration of their experience. People told us of being burnt out, having anxiety, suffering mental health issues and seeing worse behaviour at the WRU than they had experienced themselves.

“Second, an unusual number worried about the consequences were their identity revealed. Some were players concerned about team selection, but the concern from the majority was that the WRU can be unforgiving, even vindictive.”

The report said failings of governance “were a significant cause of the poor culture” found by the review.

“With better governance, problems would have been identified earlier, resolved more quickly and effectively , and reduced overall,” the report stated.

Examples of the discrimination reported included the sharing of gossip that a female staff member had “slept her way” into her job, use of the phrase “hello sugar t***” and the use of slurs about women in same-sex relationships.

Among the recommendations was a call to become more transparent. It was advised that non-disclosure agreements should only be used for an express purpose, not as a matter of course. The review found NDAs had been “overused” at the WRU.

It also advised that when reports are commissioned they should be published, unless there is particular or agreed reason not to do so.

The WRU was urged to align clearly and publicly with inclusion and diversity. “The WRU’s commitment to inclusion and its opposition to abusive behaviour, exclusion and discrimination need to be unambiguous,” the review said.

It also called for further investment in the women’s and girls’ game, with spending in line with other unions, after the review found it was not “properly supported and developed”.

The Welsh Rugby Union was an “unforgiving, even vindictive” environment to work in for some of its employees, an independent report has found.

Witnesses interviewed as part of Dame Anne Rafferty’s review of the union reported feelings of powerlessness and fear, with the WRU described in the review’s report as an organisation which was “unsure on its feet”.

The review was launched on February 13, following a BBC programme aired in January which reported allegations of racism, sexism, misogyny and homophobia connected to the WRU.

The union workplace “contained elements of bullying and discrimination” and was experienced as “toxic” by some employees, the Dame Rafferty report found.

The union’s leaders were criticised for “allowing problems to develop” and for having “a tendency to manage the problem rather than the underlying issue”,  it said.

The organisation’s former chief executive, Steve Phillips, quit within days of the BBC programme airing, with Abi Tierney’s appointment as his permanent successor confirmed in August. She takes up her role in January.

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.

“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,” the organisation’s chair Richard Collier-Keywood said in response to the report.

“It is clear that there were many opportunities to avert the serious problems described which were simply not taken.

“We have a lot of work to do to win back the trust of our colleagues our players, the volunteers who are the heart of our community game, and the supporters that buy tickets week in week out.”

Incoming chief executive Tierney said: “The independent 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.

“Of course, as leaders of the organisation, we will all wholeheartedly condemn the attitudes and issues described but we are equally aware that our response needs to be greater than this.

“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.”

Well over 50 witnesses or groups of witnesses were interviewed for the 134-page review. Interviewees included past and present players (amateur and professional), 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 work environment had elements of bullying and discrimination and was experienced as toxic by some employees,” the review states.

“They found working at the WRU stressful, with a sense of powerlessness and even fear. A small number of people were widely perceived as challenging, which tipped into bullying in some departments at some times.”

One witness quoted in the review said: “I don’t know who to trust. I feel like I’m not being 100 per cent true to myself because there are things that I’d want to call out, address or bring up but I felt vulnerable because I don’t trust people.”

The report added: “There were two striking and unusual aspects to this review.

“The first was how many people had experienced great stress from their connection with the WRU.

“We were surprised both by the number experiencing stress, but also by the intensity and duration of their experience. People told us of being burnt out, having anxiety, suffering mental health issues and seeing worse behaviour at the WRU than they had experienced themselves.

“Second, an unusual number worried about the consequences were their identity revealed. Some were players concerned about team selection, but the concern from the majority was that the WRU can be unforgiving, even vindictive.”

The report said failings of governance “were a significant cause of the poor culture” found by the review.

“With better governance, problems would have been identified earlier, resolved more quickly and effectively , and reduced overall,” the report stated.

Examples of the discrimination reported included the sharing of gossip that a female staff member had “slept her way” into her job, use of the phrase “hello sugar t***” and the use of slurs about women in same-sex relationships.

Among the recommendations was a call to become more transparent. It was advised that non-disclosure agreements where should only be used for an express purpose, not as a matter of course. The review found NDAs had been “overused” at the WRU.

It also advised that when reports are commissioned they should be published, unless there is particular or agreed reason not to do so.

The WRU was urged to clearly and publicly with inclusion and diversity. “The WRU’s commitment to inclusion and its opposition to abusive behaviour, exclusion and discrimination need to be unambiguous,” the review said.

It also called for further investment in the women’s and girls’ game, with spending in line with other unions, after the review found it was not “properly supported and developed”.

Stuart Lancaster resigned as England head coach on this day in 2015 after his side’s poor showing at the Rugby World Cup.

England became the first host nation to be knocked out at the pool stage after a 28-25 defeat to Wales and a 33-13 loss to Australia at Twickenham.

A Rugby Football Union inquest into England’s performances saw Lancaster sacked after three years in the job – he took over from 2003 World Cup winner Martin Johnson in 2012.

“I ultimately accept and take responsibility for the team’s performance,” Lancaster said after stepping down.

“I took on the role in difficult circumstances and it has been a huge challenge to transition the team with many hurdles along the way.

“However, I am immensely proud of the development of this team and I know that there is an incredibly strong foundation for them to progress to great things in the future.”

RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie said: “The Rugby World Cup was hugely disappointing for everyone associated with the England team and the subsequent review into the team’s performance was always intended to be extremely comprehensive, which it has been.”

Eddie Jones, who helped Japan to a historic 34-32 victory over South Africa in 2015, took over as England head coach and led them to the 2019 Rugby World Cup final in Japan before he departed in 2022 following a poor run of form.

England flanker Tom Curry stands by his accusation that South Africa’s Bongi Mbonambi racially abused him in the World Cup semi-final.

World Rugby found “insufficient evidence” to back up Curry’s claim that he was called a “white c***” by the Springboks player midway through the first half of the match in Paris.

Hooker Mbonambi has accused England of being “unprofessional” over the allegations, insisting “misunderstanding” arose because Curry failed to realise he was speaking Afrikaans, a common practice among the Springboks to ensure opponents do not understand their messages.

But Curry, whose girlfriend and family have since suffered online abuse, insisted “I heard what I heard.”

He said in an interview with the Daily Mail: “I didn’t really want to speak about it from the start.

“For me, on both occasions, the ball was out of play. Me and Bongi were talking and there’s no misunderstanding from my part. I went to the referee straight away. I heard what I heard. That’s all I really want to say about it and I won’t really be talking about it again.

“It was tough for my family, my girlfriend and my brother. It was a tough experience but it is what it is. The investigation’s been done and that’s all I want to say about it.”

Scotland scrum-half Ali Price has joined Edinburgh on a season-long loan from Glasgow in a move described as being “in the national interest”.

The 30-year-old has had a frustrating time over the past year, slipping down the pecking order at Warriors amid heightened competition from George Horne and Jamie Dobie.

As a result, Price – who has been at Scotstoun since 2014 – lost his long-time status as Scotland’s first-choice number nine to Ben White for this year’s Six Nations and then the first two games of the recent World Cup.

After forcing his way back in to start the national team’s two closing pool matches at the showpiece against Romania and Ireland – and scoring tries in both – a transfer has been agreed, with the involvement of Scotland management, aimed at getting the 2021 British and Irish Lion squad member playing more rugby at club level.

“Glasgow Warriors have released Ali Price on loan to Edinburgh Rugby with immediate effect, for the remainder of the season after an approach was made by the Scotland National Team and Edinburgh Rugby,” Glasgow said on Thursday.

“Price felt this was an opportunity that would be beneficial for his own personal development.

“The club has agreed, considering this factor, the move being in the national interest, and the timing of the proposal meaning Price can move straight into Edinburgh following his post-Rugby World Cup break and the subsequent return to play protocols he has been managing for a groin injury.”

Price – who has 66 Scotland caps to his name – will join the Edinburgh squad on Monday and is in line to make his debut in the URC match at home to Vodacom Bulls next Friday.

“I’m looking forward to finding my feet amongst a new group of players and seeing how I can work alongside the Scotland boys I’ve been in camp with before,” Price told Edinburgh’s official website.

“This is a new challenge that I look forward to seeing where it can lead.”

With Edinburgh scrum-half Scott Steele currently injured, Price will compete with club captain Ben Vellacott for game time as he stakes a claim to keep the Scotland number jersey going into the Six Nations, which kicks off in early February.

“Ali is a Test Lion and brings to the club a wealth of experience at the very top level of international rugby,” said Edinburgh senior coach Sean Everitt.

“We’re blessed to have a really strong group of nines at the club, who all have unique strengths and abilities.

“Scott unfortunately continues to work his way back from a hip injury that has kept him sidelined since October, which was also a factor in this move.

“Ali is a player with great vision and understanding of the game, and those qualities will only rub off on our scrum-halves. His arrival also breeds competition for places.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming him to the club where he’ll get the opportunity to compete for a place from the get-go.”

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