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[Politics] Welsh rugby: Issues off pitch cast shadow over sport, says Drakeford


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Recent off-the-field issues with rugby in Wales have "cast a shadow" over the sport, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.

Claims of sexism, misogyny and racism within the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) led to the resignation of its CEO Steve Phillips in January.

And last month, Wales V England's Six Nations match was in jeopardy over player contract concerns.

Earlier this week, the WRU announced the panel reviewing its culture.

"I have no doubt the events have cast a shadow over rugby," Mr Drakeford told AFP on a visit to Paris ahead of Wales' match against France on Saturday.

"I'm quite sure it is reversible and you can demonstrate a different future and that will be good for the game in Wales."

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He added that High Court Judge Dame Anne Rafferty and former England back-rower Maggie Alphonsi joining the independent panel was a "positive step".

The members of the panel was announced by the WRU on Tuesday, and also include Quentin Smith, while lawyer David Lawson of Serjeant's Inn will act as Counsel to the Inquiry.

Tuesday's announcement also confirmed that a Commissioning Advisory Group (CAG) had been established to support the review.

Those taking part are Henry Englehardt as a representative from the WRU and Emma Wilkins as a representative from Sport Wales.

Louise Reilly, a sport-specialist barrister, will be the third independent member nominated by Sport Resolutions.

The role of the CAG is to monitor progress and consider and reflect on the Terms of Reference in response to emerging findings of the Panel.

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"It gives you some reason to be hopeful that its report, which the WRU has committed to implementing, will help the WRU to move closer to deal with the issues that have been so difficult for them recently."

In December, Wales' football team led, by the now-retired former Real Marid attacker Gareth Bale, featured in the World Cup for the first time since 1958.

It followed a Euro 2016 semi-final appearance after more than half a century of failing to reach major tournament finals.

"The Welsh sporting landscape has changed, the provenance and success of football has given that a different sort of provenance than it would have had 20 years ago," Mr Drakeford said.

"I don't think anybody should believe the passion that people have in Wales for rugby has somehow gone away."

link: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-64983757

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