Evans led a campaign for modernisation in the governance structure of the WRU from the outset of his own appointment as Chair in November 2022 and this move is very much part of that plan.
The campaign included an appeal for member clubs to sanction the appointment of an INED Chair to lead Welsh rugby into a new era and Evans has remained a key figure in selecting and appointing his own replacement.
Evans announced his successor, alongside another new INED appointment Alison Thorne, on 15th June hailing the moment as the start of a period of ‘seismic change’ for the WRU.
Now, the Wales and British & Irish Lions icon, who is also currently Lions Chair, will step back from the WRU Board to allow the plans he passionately encouraged member clubs to vote for at an Extraordinarily General Meeting (EGM) last March to take shape.
“This new Chair appointment is a trigger for everything else that we have been campaigning for in terms of modernising the Welsh Rugby Union and so, despite the fact that it means stepping down myself, I am delighted to be handing over to Richard,” said Evans, who joined the Board in 2020 before being elected Chair two years later and immediately launching his campaign for change with a New Year’s message in December 2022
“This is a critical moment as we create a Board composition to drive the game and the organisation forward and an important consequence of what we asked our member clubs to approve.
“I have held the position of Chair with great pride, through some challenging times but also through a period of great change and progress and I leave the post with a huge amount of optimism for the future of Welsh rugby.
“I am proud to have represented both Wales and Welsh rugby around the globe and to have served in the very best interests of the game in the WRU Boardroom.
“I took over during a difficult period for our game but, together with my colleagues on the Board, we have driven through modernisation to our governance which will pay us dividends long into the future.
“When member clubs voted through these changes at our EGM last March, with a 97% majority, they gave their Board a mandate to realise the true potential of Welsh rugby and to build a teamof Directors fit to take our professional and community game to the next level.
“There was no one happier or more relieved than me at the Princess Royal Theatre in Port Talbot that day, but it was also a signal that my own time at the forefront was reaching its end.
“We say in our sport that we don’t own the jersey we play in, but that we are just looking after it for the next player to come along and represent his or her country or club with the same passion and pride, and this is how I feel at this moment.
“I pass on the baton to Richard, to Alison and to the new Directors who will follow, filled with optimism and confidence that the game this nation loves, which is an inextricable part of the DNA of our country, will go from strength to strength.”
New chair Richard Collier-Keywood has paid personal tribute to Ieuan Evans as an advocate for governance modernisation, as a champion of the community game and as the man at the helm as Welsh rugby sealed a new six-year partnership for the professional game in Wales.
“I know Ieuan has been an advocate for change and modernisation since he joined the Board, but he relentlessly campaigned since his appointment as chair in 2022 and he will be rightly credited in the history books as the man who modernised Welsh rugby’s governance structure,” said Collier-Keywood.
“Member clubs voted through Ieuan’s proposals and the whole game deserves credit for the point we have reached today, but Ieuan and his Board have been the catalyst for change.
“Ieuan has led on many positive changes for Welsh rugby including the progress that has been made in the professional game and we remain committed to the success of our professional teams and to sustainability across the game in Wales.
“The onus now is on those of us joining the Board to continue this work.”