WRU chief Phillips to stay on due to coronavirus

Wayne Pivac and Martyn Phillips
Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Martyn Phillips (right) appointed Wayne Pivac to replace Warren Gatland as the new Wales coach in 2019

Welsh Rugby Union [WRU] chief executive Martyn Phillips will stay on in his role "for the foreseeable future."

It was announced in January Phillips would leave the post this summer.

The WRU say the coronavirus pandemic has "prompted a rethink" for Phillips.

"Martyn has resolutely and determinedly stepped up to meet the challenges posed by the current world health crisis in the last days and weeks and it is a hugely positive development," WRU chairman Gareth Davies said.

Phillips, who appointed Wales head coach Wayne Pivac, had been set to leave after five years in charge.

The coronavirus pandemic has decimated the sporting schedule around the world, with rugby in Wales cancelled at all levels for the remainder of the season.

Pro 14 fixtures have been suspended indefinitely, which will have financial implications for the Welsh regions and players.

Pay scales for national squad players based in Wales are being decided by a central WRU panel, which is another ongoing issue.

The WRU had announced an extraordinary general meeting will be held on 29 March following a row with clubs over funding, but that has been postponed until further notice due to coronavirus.

The governing body confirmed 34 member clubs had triggered the meeting because of the new funding model.

Wales also now have a potential international scheduling issue to deal with following the partial postponement of the 2020 Six Nations.

Further to that, television rights negotiations for the Six Nations are at a delicate stage.

The government has rejected the chance to ensure the Six Nations remains only on free-to-air TV by turning down a call to include the tournament as a category A-listed sporting event.

BBC and ITV currently share coverage under a deal that runs until 2021 and have made another joint bid for coverage from 2022.

However, the Six Nations will remain a category B tournament, meaning live coverage can go behind a paywall provided highlights or a delayed broadcast are shown on terrestrial TV.

With so many key issues to contend with at a time of a world health crisis, WRU chairman Davies said it was imperative that Phillips stayed in his post for now.

"Martyn will provide the stability and continuity we will so desperately need to ensure that Welsh rugby, from grassroots right through to the senior international and professional game, navigates these challenges and hits the ground running once this pandemic is over," Davies added.

"With so many moving parts and so much uncertainty about the immediate future of our game, it is hugely reassuring to now know that we will continue to be in Martyn's safe hands for as long as is necessary."

The WRU had already begun the process of finding Phillips' successor, having formed a selection panel and instructed recruitment agencies, but those efforts are being paused.

"It has been my great privilege to work for Welsh rugby over the last five years and it has become clear to us all that now is not a good time to begin the transition to a new CEO, so I am only too pleased to continue in the role as we negotiate unprecedented circumstances," Phillips said.

"Our goal is simple. We have set ourselves the goal to emerge from this crisis with the WRU and all teams and clubs, whether they be amateur, semi-professional or professional, intact and able to have a sustainable future.

"I know how much rugby means to Wales and I am committed to stay until such a time as we reach calmer waters and we can again enjoy what sport and rugby means to us all.

"There are so many people across Wales making huge sacrifices at the moment to support us all through extraordinarily difficult times. Compared to the challenges they are facing and against that wider context I had no decision to make."

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