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WRU Status Update – 20/05/20

Welsh Rugby Union CEO Martyn Phillips talks about a part of rugby that accounts for 25 per cent of the world playing population – the women’s game – welcomes new PRB director Marianne Økland … and more in the latest WRU Status Update:

A video conference last week with our women’s performance squad and management left me hugely impressed with the dedication and focus of this whole group to maximise the opportunities presented by the current lockdown situation and ignore its obvious drawbacks.

The players have continued to push both their conditioning and skills development and the group is determined and unerring from one true course, to implement the plan in place to build for the World Cup next year and be ‘ready to go’ once restrictions are lifted.

The Welsh Rugby Union’s strategy to increasingly improve and step-change this element of the game through increased and targeted investment of time, money and resources remains equally unerring and is wholly in line with the ambitions of World Rugby.

We are conscious that 2021 will be a huge year for the women’s game, with the Olympics delayed until that summer there will only be seven weeks between the women’s Olympic Sevens tournament and the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, these are flagship events and present an ideal opportunity to increase the profile of women’s rugby a further step.

I would also like to add my welcome to Marianne Økland who joins the Professional Rugby Board alongside Amanda Blanc as our second independent non-executive Director. I know Marianne has a passion for rugby and the women’s game in particular. We look forward to the additional leadership she will bring to this important element of the PRB agenda.

We have also been busy working on potential emergency funding options for clubs. As we said at the outset, whilst it can never be guaranteed, our objective is to do all we can to ensure all clubs emerge from the other side of this crisis.

On that note we are grateful to those clubs who have submitted their surveys to help us to understand and scale the issue, although there are still 100 or so clubs that we need to hear from please?

We would also like to credit the clubs who have managed to submit applications for the various government and local authority funding schemes and who have or will see the financial benefit of these schemes.

Clearly this area continues to evolve and we are committed to continue to work with our clubs to make the most of the opportunities available.

We have a WRU Board meeting on 10 June where we will review the findings from the survey and assess what, if any, additional opportunities we have to provide further funding.

In the interests of transparency that Board review is likely to take the following form:

  • An assessment of the latest WRU financial position in order to determine what, if any, emergency funds can be made available
  • Review of the club survey data that has been returned to help to identify what clubs are most in need of assistance and how might funds be apportioned
  • Priority will be given to clubs who have taken all reasonable self-help measures
  • We will also be looking wherever possible to allocate funds to clubs that have plans in place to safeguard a sustainable future

Clearly the future remains uncertain with little visibility as to when life will return to a new normal. With that in mind, we will be doing all we can to make funds available and to do our utmost to tailor funding to the areas where it can be of most impact.

In addition we will continue to monitor government support packages and continue to provide ongoing advice and support.

In the meantime please stay safe.

Martyn Phillips


Økland joins the PRB

Welsh rugby’s Professional Rugby Board (PRB) has appointed a new independent non-executive director, Marianne Økland, who is senior figure in the financial sector.

Økland is a portfolio non-executive director with international leadership experience from boards located in six different countries, predominantly in banking and shipping.

She joins recently appointed chair Amanda Blanc to complete the independent contingent of the PRB, the body which oversees the professional game in Wales and also includes representation from the Welsh Rugby Union and each of the four Welsh regional teams.

Born in Norway and a graduate of the Norwegian School of Economics the PRB’s new Board member has chaired a broad range of board committees herself, with focus on risk management, audit and corporate governance.

She is also a member of the executive committee of Penguins International RFC, a touring club dedicated to promoting rugby and its values around the world which has coached over 20,000 children, primarily in developing countries, and boasts a number of past and current internationals (including Derek Quinnell, David Pickering and Alan Phillips) as former players

“We are delighted to welcome on board someone of such calibre and with such a high level of experience, who joins the PRB at this pivotal moment for the future of the game in Wales,” said PRB chair Amanda Blanc.

Mental Health Awareness week and fundraising

The rugby family has been demonstrating its community spirit once again during Mental Health Awareness Week. The theme of the week is kindness – to ourselves as well as others and this is what we are seeing on a weekly basis from clubs, staff and volunteers throughout the game. Whether it’s keeping in touch with vulnerable members of our communities by picking up the phone, or coordinating fundraising efforts which raise the spirit of all those involved in the physical challenge and provide much-needed support to the recipients, we have seen rugby clubs and groups come together more than ever before, if virtually.

Some clubs, as reported in recent Updates, having gone to great lengths to raise money have now put the funds towards the mental well-being of those who need it most at this time… keep an eye on our websites and social media channels this week to find out more including some impressive efforts, from Dragons inclusion officer Gareth Sullivan and Pontyclun Walking Rugby’s Julius Roszkowski, to keep those most isolated involved and engaged.