Welsh Rugby Union is facing allegations of sexism and discrimination, says a BBC investigation
By Sammy Mngqosini, CNN
The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) is facing allegations of sexism and discrimination according to a BBC Wales Investigation program set to air on Monday.
In a short video published by the BBC on Monday ahead of the full program airing at 3 p.m. ET, Charlotte Wathan, the former general manager of Welsh women’s rugby, claimed there was a “toxic culture” of sexism at the WRU.
“Someone referring about me in an office environment that they wanted to rape me,” Wathan told the BBC Wales Investigates program.
“Take me back to the hotel, tie me to the bed and rape me. I remember feeling sick, like a punch to the stomach. I remember standing in shock thinking: ‘Did I just hear that?’
“And everyone’s laughing, and there was a senior member of staff there. I left the room and I burst into tears. I thought: ‘Crikey, is this what it’s come to?'” Wathan added.
CNN has reached out to Wathan for comment.
In a statement to CNN, former Wales player and Member of Parliament Tonia Antoniazzi, who also appears on the BBC Wales Investigates program, called on the Welsh government and relevant authorities “to establish an independent regulator capable of adequately holding sporting governing bodies in Wales to account.”
“Wales is undoubtedly a rugby loving nation, but it is time for us to confront the systemic failings within the sport and its governance in Wales,” Antoniazzi continued.
“From the grassroots game right up to board level, women deserve to have confidence they will be protected from unsafe conditions or inappropriate behaviour and will be listened to if something goes wrong.
“Regretfully this has not been the case in Wales and victims of abuse and harassment have been ignored or pressured into silence.”
“Following tonight’s programme, those responsible for ensuring the longevity and success of rugby in Wales including sponsors, players, politicians and the WRU must accept the status quo is unacceptable,” the MP for Gower, Wales, added.
“Drastic changes must be made to improve the culture within Welsh rugby, so women feel safe whether they are a player, volunteer or staff member.”
CNN reached out to the WRU for comment but has not received a response.
In a statement posted on the WRU website on January 19, 2023 in response to the upcoming BBC investigation, the rugby federation said: “We reached an amicable resolution, satisfying both parties, with Charlotte Wathan.
“The terms of the resolution included confidentiality obligations for both parties, leaving us with no option but to decline the BBC’s request for interview on this matter.”
“It is vitally important to note that we have a duty of care as employers to both the complainants and those complained against.
“That duty of care continues and we are deeply concerned about the effect of this programme on those individuals in respect of the fact the allegations described remain unsubstantiated following a thorough independent legal investigation,” the WRU added.
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