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Butcher re-elected as Chairman of WRU board

ROB Butcher has been re-elected as chairman of Welsh Rugby Union Board, extending his tenure for a further year.

The Board’s first meeting following the WRU’s Annual General Meeting re-installed Butcher, unopposed, and also welcomed two new directors, Colin Wilks and Chris Jones.

Wilks and Jones were elected to the Board from the WRU Council, also following the AGM, and fill positions vacated by Gordon Eynon – who remains a member of the Council – and Hywel Roberts.

“It is a great honour and a privilege to serve Welsh rugby as WRU chairman and I’m hugely encouraged and invigorated by my fellow directors who have asked me to serve for a further one-year term,” said Butcher, who had a galvanising effect on the game in Wales when he was first installed as chairman in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic in November 2020.

“The past year has been incredibly tough for our member clubs, our professional players and for everyone involved in the game at all levels, from WRU staff to the volunteers who make it their mission to ensure our game continues to thrive.

“One of my first actions was to appoint Steve Phillips as permanent CEO and it is the strength of this relationship which I believe has been a stabilising influence on the Union over the last 12 months. I am particularly grateful to Steve, who now has his full executive team in place and look forward to continuing to work in unison with him and his team to positive effect in the year ahead.

“Our club game has had to survive incredible adversity, but capacity crowds at Principality Stadium and the return of our WRU Admiral National Leagues, with the Indigo Group Premiership to follow next month, all add up to the feeling that we are hopefully approaching the end of this crisis. I am most proud of the achievements of the community game in the past year, where we have been able to count the same number of clubs out of the crisis as we were able to boast at its onset.

“There is much more hard work to be done in all areas of our game.

“We are the defending Guinness Six Nations Champions in the senior men’s game.

“We have seen recent progress off the field with the announcement that professional contracts will be made available to our Wales Women squad players.

“The new United Rugby Championship competition has got off to a flying start and we will have welcomed more than two hundred thousand supporters back to Principality Stadium before the month is out.

“We have also welcomed new faces to our Board in Colin Wilks and Chris Jones and I thank both Gordon Eynon and Hywel Roberts for their services to our game as they leave the Board.

“Changes elsewhere saw Henry Engelhardt and Catherine Read join us as our new independent directors (INEDs) in May and we continue to evolve and progress.

“And this will be my mantra in the year ahead, to continue to drive change for the better and make progress that is in the best interests of our member clubs and the elite game in Wales.

“We are all in this together and it is by working together that we will ensure Welsh rugby continues to thrive.”

The changes at WRU Board level come after three National Council Members began three-year terms on the WRU Council following the AGM, with Colin Charvis and John Manders both re-elected to post, joined by Claire Donovan who was elected unopposed after Jon Morgan stood down.

There were also four District Council Members beginning further terms on the WRU Council, with both Chris Jones and Gordon Eynon re-elected and Kevin Lewis and Alun Roberts both elected, standing unopposed after Hywel Roberts and Brian Fowler respectively stood down.

Independent Non-Executive Directors (INEDs) Henry Engelhardt and Catherine Read were welcomed to their first AGM, after being appointed in May to replace Aileen Richards and Tim Griffin.

The new WRU Board members:

Colin Wilks:

Joined the WRU in 2019 as District Council Member for District A.

He is Secretary, a Director and a former Chairman of Risca rugby club, who led the club through its incorporation process and is also a level 3 coach.

He has spent more than 40 years in rugby, firstly as a player, then referee, coach and now an administrator.

Now retired, he has a business background as an experienced manager, working in the mining & metals industry in both Manufacturing and Commercial sectors.

A former school governor he is a University of Glamorgan engineering graduate, he also has a postgraduate degree in business administration from the University of Wales.

Chris Jones:

Joined the WRU in 2018 and is a District Council Member for District G.

A one club man, he was a founding member of Newcastle Emlyn and has been its Secretary since its formation in 1977.

He is a life member of the club as well as a past player, captain and coach.

He is a former coach to the Welsh Schools Intermediate (Under 16) International side.

He also chaired the Intermediate Group and the Schools Council and represented the Schools on the old WRU Committee.

Educated at Llandysul Grammar School and Loughborough Colleges, he taught PE for 35 years until his retirement in 2010.