The Welsh Rugby Union is facing allegations of sexism and discrimination which have led MP and former Welsh international Tonia Antoniazzi to express “great concern” about women’s play in the country.
A number of former WRU staff have taken part in an investigation by BBC Wales, due to be shown on Monday evening, accusing them of their time with the governing body.
Charlotte Wathan, chief executive of women’s rugby until her resignation last February, says a colleague’s offensive comments made her burst into tears and sick, while another anonymous co-worker says her experiences of bullying and sexism at work caused her to contemplate suicide. BBC Wales investigates.
Cases of racism and homophobia are also alleged.
The WRU said that after an investigation by an outside law firm, an “amicable solution” was reached with Wathan “to the satisfaction of both parties”. He said a confidentiality agreement between the parties prevented further details.
It noted that another complaint had been investigated and then withdrawn while the new information in the broadcast would be “reviewed and acted upon”.
A spokesman said: “The Welsh Rugby Union condemns the use of racist, homophobic or sexist language and states in the strongest terms possible that racism, homophobia, sexism or bullying has no place in Welsh rugby.”
The statement continued: “It is extremely important to remember that as an employer we have a duty of care to both complainants and those against whom a complaint is made.
“This duty of care continues and we are deeply concerned about the impact of this program on these individuals as these allegations remain unsubstantiated following a thorough independent legal investigation.”
But Antoniazzi, who once played for Wales as a prop and now represents the Gower constituency and serves as Labor minister in the shadow of Labor in Northern Ireland, is still concerned about the testimony.
She likened the evidence to the racist scandal that affected cricket following Azeem Rafiq’s allegations against Yorkshire, and believes an independent body may be needed to hold sporting bodies in Wales to account.
“This is at the level of what happened in cricket. I have great, great concerns about the future of women’s rugby in Wales,” she told the BBC.
“There must be an independent body that would deal with complaints… all complaints when there are problems with the governing body, the sport’s governing body in Wales. You have to have somewhere to go.”
Responding to these comments, the WRU said: “Regarding comments from MP Toni Antoniazzi, the WRU invites the Gower Labor MP to contact her directly on the issues raised by her and would welcome the opportunity to discuss her concerns.”