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In the chair.

Betsan Powys | 07:02 UK time, Tuesday, 14 December 2010

A couple of weeks ago it was, reportedly, proving difficult to fill the Yes campaign chair.

Last week it wasn't just filled, we were told. Read the update on this blog entry and you'll see the suggestion that the hotseat was to be occupied not by just anyone but by just the person the Yes campaign would have wanted ... only they hadn't known they felt as strongly about the outcome of the referendum on March 3rd and the future direction of the National Assembly as they did.

What happened in the meantime? Did the Yes campaign team happen to read this article perhaps? Did they read Roger Lewis, the WRU group Chief Executive, lambasting the decision by the BBC not to broadcast the pre-match events and opening minutes of the Wales v New Zealand match at the Millennium Stadium? Did they go on to read these impassioned closing paragraphs?

"The voice of Wales, our voice, must be heard. It must be heard in Wales and in the corridors of the decision- makers and opinion formers in London as well as in Cardiff.

"If we want Wales to win, not just in rugby but beyond the field, we all have to take responsibility. We have to take responsibility for ourselves.

And that means convincing the powers that be, wherever they are, to have confidence in us and our abilities to make the right decisions. To do that, we must have the confidence in ourselves.

All of us in Wales, in whatever walk of life, must be prepared to take control of our own destiny".

Then again perhaps he'd already accepted the invitation to sit in the Yes campaign chair and had seen a chance to score a few early points. Perhaps we'll be told today.

Why would Roger Lewis be "just the chair" the Yes campaign would have wanted?

A few stabs at guessing how their minds might have been working:

He's an extremely tough operator - iron first in a nubuck glove (or whatever it is rugby chiefs wear on a cold Saturday.)

He got hold of the WRU, get hold of its finances and turned things round.

He made it to the top in the world of business ... and is Welsh.

Unlike Sir Emyr Jones Parry or Gerry Holtham he's still involved in running a high profile organisation.

He is happy to play the 'ordinary boy from Cefn Cribwr' line. ("My 83-year-old mam in Cefn Cribwr was baffled. The only red button she could see was on her cardigan. The only platform she knew of was in Bridgend railway station. Luckily, she voted for Wales and switched to S4C".)

He'll shore up the patriotic rugby vote. As the man who wore the Political Editor's shirt before he passed it to me once put it: "Politicians are not slow to spot a bandwagon and in Wales bandwagons don't come much bigger than the one marked 'rugby'.

He's charming and media friendly.

Then again they might have considered that:

He's pure crachach.

A grass roots True Wales/No campaign versus the very voice of the Welsh establishment? Tricky and risky.

Unlike Sir Emyr Jones Parry or Gerry Holtham he's still involved in running a high profile organisation ... and the WRU hasn't exactly been absent from the headlines in recent years.

There have been some high profile misjudgements .

His temper has been known to flare.

His association with the Welsh rugby team isn't a 100% plus at the moment ... given the Autumn international results ... and he'll be closely associated with the fortunes of the men in red shirts. Doesn't the form of the All Blacks decide elections in New Zealand?

The referendum takes place in the middle of the Six Nations.

You don't imagine, somehow, that he owns an anorak (then again ... maybe knowing all about the LCO process versus Part 4 isn't such a great thing ...)

Roger Lewis will be presented as Chair of the Yes campaign this lunchtime in the Barry YMCA.


"This will be a people's campaign, not a politicians' campaign" said Roger Lewis who was NOT in Cardiff (in Barry) and where there was NOT a politician in sight (YMCA).

My colleague wandered over to chat to a few of the lunchtime crowd in the cafe where the WRU chief and Yes Campaign chair was doing his round of interviews. Did anyone know who he was, what he was doing there?

"His face is familiar" said one woman. "Um .. is he an MP?"


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