The Welsh Rugby Union [WRU] has announced plans to modernise its 12-strong board to include at least five women after facing accusations of sexism and misogyny.
The proposals, which include introducing an independent chair, will be decided upon at an extraordinary general meeting on Sunday, 26 March.
The WRU chief executive or chair are now also expected to be female.
The plans needs 75% of clubs to vote for the resolutions.
Catherine Read is currently the only woman on the existing 12-person board.
The WRU has never had a woman in either of its two highest profile positions, while there will be at least two women in the new independent director positions.
The proposals follow a damaging week for the WRU that saw chief executive Steve Phillips resign.
A BBC Wales Investigates programme provided allegations of sexism and misogyny within the WRU.
The WRU says it is proposing a series of measures designed to redress their gender imbalance and provide more specialist skills.
The board will still be formed by 12 individuals, but the governing body say new proposals are designed to ensure a greater diversity of business skills, mindset, gender and cultural representation, ensuring it is truly representative of all of Welsh rugby and fit for purpose.
The proposals will double the number of independent representatives (INEDs), who are appointed rather than elected, on the board from three to six and reduce the number of elected national or district members, elected from the WRU council, from eight to four.
In addition, at least one of the national representatives elected from the council will be female under the new proposals, and one of either the chair of the Professional Rugby Board (PRB) or the elected/appointed/selected representative for the women’s game will be female.
Further modernisations will also be proposed, including increasing the number of independent directors elsewhere on the WRU board.
The WRU proposals also include a board representative with a specific remit to represent the women’s and girls’ rugby and reducing the representation of national and district council members.
The proposals have been unanimously pre-approved by the existing board.
The quest to bring in an independent chair rather than an elected representative was rejected at the WRU’s last annual general meeting in October 2022.
It achieved 66% but fell short of the 75% required, but WRU chair Ieuan Evans believes signs are positive the shortfall can be made up.
“The onus is on us to explain to members the benefits of the proposals we are making and we will do so, but I also think members will understand the necessity of what we are trying to achieve, having had time to reflect on and digest last year’s AGM proposals,” said Evans.
“We are asking members to allow us to make significant changes to our constitution, which they won’t do lightly and rightly so.
“But we must also be wholly transparent about the scale of change necessary to ensure the survival of Welsh rugby.”
Evans says it is imperative the new vision of the WRU is accepted by the clubs.
“We need to enact change to ensure our game is able to survive and flourish at all levels in Wales,” he said.
“There is a stark choice before us, to wither or flourish and we will be visiting clubs and districts around Wales to explain our mission here and to implore them to vote these vital modernisations though.
“There has been much talk of an existential crisis in Welsh rugby in recent days.
“Passing these proposals will help us address these issues and many others and ensure we have a modern, fit for purpose, representative board to take Welsh rugby into a new modern era and to restore the trust and pride of those around us.”
The WRU has also announced an external taskforce will be established to investigate the organisation’s culture.
What the new WRU board will look like
- Four independent non executive directors, at least two will be women
- Chair of the Professional Rugby Board (PRB) and elected, appointed or selected representative for the women’s game, at least one of who will be a woman
- Four national and district council members (reduced from eight) including chair of the Community Game Board (CGB), at least one of who will be a woman.
- Independent chair and chief executive