Welsh Rugby Union apologises after former employee alleges being sexually assaulted in stadium cupboard

The Welsh Rugby Union chief executive has issued an apology after a former employee alleged being sexually assaulted in a stadium cupboard
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The Welsh Rugby Union has issued an apology after a former female employee alleged she was sexually assaulted. The victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, claimed she was sexually attacked twice in a cupboard at the Principality Stadium between 2019 and 2021, according to a report by ITV.

A damning report on sexism and misogyny within the union released last November however failed to mention this incident, shedding light on the "toxic" and "vindictive" atmosphere within the organisation. The report, which gathered testimonies from over 50 witnesses, including current and former players, underscored a culture of bullying and discrimination within the WRU.

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Following these revelations, the WRU has issued a formal apology directly to the victim, denouncing the behaviour as "totally unacceptable" and "will not ever, be tolerated". WRU chief executive Abi Tierney told ITV: “Firstly, it is vitally important for me, on behalf of everyone at the Welsh Rugby Union, to formally apologise directly to the individual involved. The behaviour described is totally unacceptable and was not ever, and will not ever, be tolerated.

“Our culture did not prevent such an incident from happening and, whilst we know our people team worked hard to offer support and care over an extended period of time, some of our HR policies for addressing such incidences were not right. We have said already that we regret the use of non-disclosure settlements or similar arrangements where employment ended.

“More widely, I would like to reiterate the full apology both myself and others have previously offered to anyone who has been affected by issues and challenges highlighted by our recent independent review. Although the person has wished to remain anonymous, from the description of the circumstances, it is our understanding that this is one of the cases examined by the review and in this way has already fed the recommendations for change that we are committed to deliver.”

The Welsh Rugby Union has apologised after a female former employee alleged she was sexually assaulted in a cupboard at the Principality Stadium.The Welsh Rugby Union has apologised after a female former employee alleged she was sexually assaulted in a cupboard at the Principality Stadium.
The Welsh Rugby Union has apologised after a female former employee alleged she was sexually assaulted in a cupboard at the Principality Stadium.

The woman recounted her harrowing experience, describing how she was seized by terror as the man carried out the assault. Recalling the incident, she said: "He was waiting there in the cupboard in the office. He pulled the door shut and wedged me up against some of the stock and sexually assaulted me. I just froze, which I hate. I hate myself for it because I didn’t do anything. From the moment he had done it, I just wanted to be invisible." The unnamed victim said she was then sexually assaulted a second time. She said: "He said he would never do it again and he came in to collect some post one day and he wasn't supposed to be in work. He came up, it was just after Covid and we were just coming back in. He came and found me and said you are going to have to come down to the office a minute." She continued: "In my head, I knew but stupidly I went. We got to the office and I thought I am not going to sit down so I stood by the door. He knew then I wasn't going to come in so as we came out he grabbed my behind. I thought he's done it again, it took me back to the first time straight away like that. I just froze again."

WRU Group CEO, Abi Tierney (right) apologises after a female former employee alleged she was sexually assaulted in a cupboard at the Principality Stadium. Picture: Ryan Hiscott/Getty ImagesWRU Group CEO, Abi Tierney (right) apologises after a female former employee alleged she was sexually assaulted in a cupboard at the Principality Stadium. Picture: Ryan Hiscott/Getty Images
WRU Group CEO, Abi Tierney (right) apologises after a female former employee alleged she was sexually assaulted in a cupboard at the Principality Stadium. Picture: Ryan Hiscott/Getty Images
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She claimed he laughed in the wake of what had happened and said "See you tomorrow". Following the incidents, the woman received a text from the alleged perpetrator apologising for his actions. Her allegations are among the most severe to emerge since it was disclosed in March 2022 that another former employee of the Welsh Rugby Union had accused certain members of the organisation of making derogatory remarks about her and drawing comparisons to Hitler.

The female accuser said there was a presence of a culture marked by sexism and misogyny within the Welsh Rugby Union. This situation prompted the former CEO, Steve Phillips, to resign from his position in January 2023, with Abi Tierney assuming the role in January of this year.

The independent review produced 36 recommendations, covering aspects such as governance, handling of complaints, the union's approach to diversity and inclusion, and investment in women's rugby.

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