The WRU is set to appoint an independent Board chair for the first time ©WRU

Club representatives have overwhelmingly voted in favour of governance changes to the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) Board of Directors which will see the number of independent members doubled from three to six.

This includes the introduction of an Independent Non-Executive Director (INED) as chair of the WRU Board for the first time.

A further two new INEDs will be recruited to the 12-person Board, who will sit alongside the Professional Rugby Board chair in addition to four current INED members.

The resolution was proposed at an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) called by the governing body in Port Talbot.

It required at least 75 per cent to be in favour to pass from the 282 clubs eligible to vote, but this was massively exceeded as it received 97.2 per cent.

Of the 252 votes, 245 were in favour of the resolution and seven votes against.

The meeting came in the wake of sexism, racism, and homophobia allegations faced by the WRU.

The changes are hoped to allow the organisation to redress the gender imbalance on the Board with an ambition to increase the number of female members from one to five.

Ieuan Evans claims that the
Ieuan Evans claims that the "momentous" governance changes will leave the WRU "much better equipped to overcome any challenges" ©WRU

Of the five, it hopes at least one of the top two jobs - chief executive and chair - are held by a woman.

A Board representative is now also set to specifically represent women's and girls rugby.

"I'm delighted with the support members have shown for the Board's recommendation today," said WRU chair Ieuan Evans, who vowed to modernise the body's governance in his New Year address a few weeks after his own election.

"We now have a line in the sand from which we intend to move forward purposefully, swiftly and better prepared to serve Welsh rugby's needs.

"This is another historic day in the 142-year history of the WRU.

"From this moment on we will be much better equipped to overcome any challenges we may face and I thank all members for giving us the tools to do a better job on their behalf.

"The repercussions of a positive vote today are nothing short of momentous and I am genuinely excited about the latent potential of our national game at all levels.

"Members have taken the opportunity to pay something forward of huge significance to our great rugby playing country's children… and its children's children.

The Extraordinary General Meeting was called after the WRU had faced accusations of sexism, racism and homophobia ©WRU
The Extraordinary General Meeting was called after the WRU had faced accusations of sexism, racism and homophobia ©WRU

"We will draft in the very best talent to help our elected Board members.

"Each with a genuine and heartfelt interest and love for our game.

"But also with the business expertise, varied skills and acumen to see Welsh rugby soar."

The increase in independent members means the number of elected national or district members will be halved from eight to four.

In the new configuration four Board members will still come from the WRU Council which is entirely elected by member clubs, one of whom will be the Community Game Board's chair.

WRU acting chief executive Nigel Walker hopes to complete the process for change by December 31 next year but expects the process to be much quicker, while stating that the "first steps will be taken immediately."

The allegations that sparked the meeting led to the resignation of former chief executive Steve Phillips.

The WRU remains under investigation by an independent taskforce led by former judge Dame Anne Rafferty concerning the culture within the organisation.