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Major governance changes in Ireland & Wales

Major changes have been proposed in Ireland and Wales. 

After a tumultuous few weeks in the Welsh game, major governance changes have been put forward which would give women a stronger voice than ever while in Ireland the IRFU have confirmed they will meet a government deadline to improve gender representation on their main committee to 40% by the end of the year.

 After accusations of sexism and misogyny raised in a BBC documentary, after which its CEO resigned, the WRU said it would “modernise” its 12-strong board to include at least five women.

They will also introduce an independent chair with either that role or the CEO expected to be female in the future – something that has never happened before.

The proposals will be decided upon at an extraordinary general meeting on Sunday, 26 March. The plans needs 75% of clubs to vote for the resolutions. Currently there is just one woman on the existing 12 person board

The WRU proposals also include a board representative with a specific remit to represent the women's and girls' rugby.

In Ireland, where the IRFU’s committee has just 13% representation from women, the union has reacted to pressure from government, including a mooted financial penalty, and committed to reaching 40% by the end of the year.

There are no details yet as to how this will be achieved. They could simply increase the size of the committee, like World Rugby did in 2020 when it wanted to improve gender equality in its global council. The Council grew from 32 to 49 with all the new positions going to women.

Though it has taken am external catalyst for both unions to act, the changes will mean that women will begin to have a stronger voice and play a stronger role in two of the world’s leading rugby unions.