Civil servant Tierney appointed first female chief executive of Welsh Rugby Union

rugby17 August 2023 17:27| © AFP
Abi Tierney

Abi Tierney has been appointed the first female chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union, the governing body announced Thursday.

The 49-year-old is set to join the WRU before the end of 2023 after serving notice at the Home Office, Britain's interior ministry, where she is director general for customer services.

Her appointment comes nearly seven months after Steve Phillips resigned as WRU chief executive amid allegations of a "toxic culture" at the organisation.

Welsh rugby was rocked in January by a BBC documentary which aired allegations of racism, misogyny, sexism and homophobia at the WRU.

Wales players threatened strike action over contract issues earlier this year, while financial troubles continue to engulf the domestic professional game.

Tierney succeeds interim chief executive Nigel Walker, the former Olympic hurdler and Wales rugby international who will now become the WRU's first director of rugby.

"The opportunity to lead the Welsh Rugby Union is an immense privilege and I relish the chance to make a lasting positive difference at such a critical time," said Tierney.

"My passion and commitment for this role is unquestionable and I feel a huge sense of pride having grown up in a family where my dad is from Barry and where rugby has been a constant and positive force in our lives.

"Rugby has the ability to enable life chances and develop people on and off the pitch.

"In this role, I intend to take that heritage and the skills and learning I have gathered in my career to deliver the significant cultural advancement Welsh rugby deserves. I have a track record in positively shaping an organisation's culture.

"I am an inclusive leader and I will do my utmost to promote belonging, trust, understanding and mutual support at all levels in Welsh rugby.

"Abi's appointment is a major coup for Welsh rugby," said Richard Collier-Keywood, who succeeded former Wales wing Ieuan Evans as WRU chair last month.

He added: "I believe Abi will make a major contribution to our enjoyment of all aspects of the game in Wales. I am delighted she has decided to join us."