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‘Things cannot go on…’

Rugby’s governing body in Wales has unveiled a strategy for what the BBC has described as “rebuilding the national sport”, but many of the comments about it are negative – including that the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) is “embarrassingly inept”.

Last week after a torrid 12 months on and off the pitch, the WRU outlined its five-year plan for the future of the game in Wales, although the exact detail of how it will achieve its “ambitious mission” is not expected until October, and many rugby supporters appear unimpressed.


One of the remarks underneath coverage of its controversial announcement was: “Highly paid execs come up with a wish list. The WRU has gone from inept to embarrassingly inept”.

Another was: “This is just generic corporate tosh which should never have been published without the supporting detail. Results, player development, attendances etc are down at all levels in all areas. I’m left thinking if this exec team have the ability and gravitas to concieve the necessary and wholesale changes let alone implement them, whatever the time line “.

It was described as ‘flipboard drivel’

A further critic declared: “I feel Abi Tierney (the WRU’s first female Chief Executive Officer [CEO]) has been in office long enough to come up with a bit more than this…. This just sounds like typical management-seminar-flipboard-drivel to me, with no actual reasoning to how any of this plan is going to be put into action. Spending your budget on rugby instead of other stuff might have helped before but now it’s a hell of a hole to dig ourselves out of. More news in Oct..!??”.

There was also: “Six months to come up with that?”.

BBC Cymru Wales (BBC CW) reported: Fittingly during a general election, the governing body has unveiled what is, in effect, its manifesto for rebuilding the national sport.

Abi Tierney said it’s not good enough

“New chief executive Abi Tierney said the WRU aims to improve the men’s and women’s national teams as well as the regions, increase participation in the community and women’s game and improve the game’s finances.”

At a Principality Stadium briefing in Cardiff on the 25th anniversary of the first game at the venue, Ms Tierney and chair Richard Collier-Keywood spelt out the WRU’s financial difficulties.

Too much money is being handed over

They said the union has been operating well beyond its means with an annual deficit of £15 million as it struggles to pay off £24 million of debt.

It is, perhaps, unfortunate that the previous WRU regime had sold some of its share of United Rugby Championship (URC) and Six Nations media rights, with those in charge appearing to regret the decision.

Abi Tierney said: “…we can’t survive with the way we are going now”

They have also confirmed that there is a £35 million funding gap for the regions over the next five years, putting the future of all four regions in doubt.

“When I came in, it struck me that we’re not running rugby as a business”, said Ms Tierney, who took over her role in January.

“We are spending too much money and we can’t survive with the way we are going now”, she added.

Many believe the WRU has let down Wales

“So we are going to have to make some hard decisions to get some sound financial foundations.”

This all comes as critics have questioned the recent performance of Wales in rugby union on the pitch.

The men’s team is now ranked tenth in the world, with Italy at eighth, and the number one slot secured by South Africa. 

The rugby performances have made Wales a laughing stock around the world

The women’s team is performing slightly better, and as of last September was in sixth position.

In this year’s Six Nations tournament, Wales lost every single match, and reached bottom of the table.

Wales ended their campaign with a 24-21 defeat to Italy in Cardiff.

As Ms Tierney has said “hard decisions” must be made, and maybe she should start by looking at the ‘comments’ underneath reports of her announcement that “we can’t survive..”



The memories of our Editor, Welshman Phil Parry’s 40 year award-winning career in journalism (including sport stories) as he was gripped by the rare neurological disease Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now!

Publication of another book, though, was refused, because it was to have included names.

Tomorrow – how during that career political stories have been all-important, so Phil looks on with interest as the huge number of recent Tory Prime Ministers becomes a key election issue, with the five featuring last week on the front of a UK newspaper.