The new role will sit above two other Executive roles of Performance Director, currently held on an interim basis by Huw Bevan, and Community Director, held by Geraint John. The Wales senior professional coaching staff in both the men’s and women’s game will also report directly into Walker. This role demonstrates the desire of the chair and the Board to better integrate the rugby agenda across Wales improving the links between community, professional and international rugby.
The news confirms that Walker withdrew himself from the search for the CEO at an early stage.
“I have enjoyed my time as WRU CEO and I will continue to work hard in the best interests of Welsh rugby.” said Walker.
“It has been a privilege and an honour to serve our game and lead Welsh rugby through its recent challenges over the last six months, but I knew early on in the recruitment process that Richard and the Board wanted a CEO with a strong commercial background, so I withdrew from the process, and I have been grateful for the honesty and commitment shown to me.
“This new role is not a role that I sought but when Richard discussed the new role of Executive Director of Rugby with me, it is something which greatly appeals to me. I will be addressing its challenges with the same vigour and determination to succeed that I hope I have shown everyone in the game over recent times.
“There is still much hard work to do secure a positive and sustainable future for Welsh rugby, but we will continue to progress together and I remain hugely optimistic about the future of our game.”
Formerly Performance Director at the WRU until taking on the interim CEO role, Walker has been appointed to the new position after impressing the board and its new chair during his six-month interim stint at the helm.
He has led the WRU as interim CEO since February. In that time, he campaigned, alongside Ieuan Evans for governance modernisation which was passed with a 97% majority at the WRU’s Extraordinary General Meeting in March and resulted in the appointment of new chair Richard Collier-Keywood.
He has guided the business admirably through the current independent review (taskforce) process, instigating many changes to culture and internal processes already, and helped to negotiate a new six-year Professional Rugby Agreement (PRA) with Wales’ four regions.
“I am delighted that Nigel will be taking up this new challenge. He has done a great job in leading the WRU over the last few months,” said Collier-Keywood, who officially took up position as the WRU’s new chair on Monday this week.
“This role is vital as we seek to deliver a ‘one rugby’ agenda across all aspects of community, professional and international rugby in Wales. We want to widen the appeal of rugby for everyone in Wales and integrate what we do from grassroots to international level across all formats of the game.”