Amanda Blanc: Aviva chief says she left Welsh rugby after ‘not being listened to’

Amanda Blanc: Aviva chief says she left Welsh rugby after 'not being listened to'

Amanda Blanc joined Aviva in July 2020, becoming the company’s first female chief executive

The chief executive of Aviva has revealed the reasons behind her departure as chair of the Professional Rugby Board (PRB) and from the board of the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU).

Amanda Blanc told BBC Wales Live she was not listened to and that the WRU “needs modernisation”.

She stood down in November 2021 after less than two years as chair of the PRB, which includes members of the WRU and each of Wales’ four regional sides.

No explanation was given at the time.

Speaking about her departure for the first time, Ms Blanc told Wales Live: “You like to do things where you make an impact.

“If you feel that that isn’t being listened to, you’ll move on.

“Ultimately what I would say about the Welsh Rugby Union is that the governance needs modernisation.

”You have two very distinct parts of the game – the community game and the professional game – and you know the professional game needs to have the appropriate governance for that.”

Ms Blanc confirmed it was “absolutely” her decision and was succeeded as PRB chairman by Malcolm Wall.

When asked whether the WRU is beyond repair, she said: “I wish Malcolm well in his quest to do that but I do think change needs to happen.”

Another key issue for Blanc was the other communities in Wales that want to play rugby.

“Look at the women’s game for example,” she added.

“Taking that game seriously and making sure that gets the investment that’s required.

“I think those are all things that are perfectly within the gift of the Welsh Rugby Union to fix.”

‘Not dinosaurs’

When asked whether the WRU board was outdated or dinosaurs, Blanc replied: “I am not going to say they are dinosaurs because if you look at the Welsh Rugby Union there are two independent non-executives and I was the chair of the PRB.

“But there were also many non-business background people on that and I think if you have a £100m revenue business you need the appropriate governance.

“Everybody needs to want to do that, one individual can’t just do that. Everybody needs to see the need for change and want to change.”

The PRB includes representatives of the WRU and the four Welsh regional teams, Scarlets, Cardiff, Ospreys and Dragons.

“I loved chairing the Professional Rugby Board,” said Blanc.

“Working with the four regions in Wales, they are very professional individuals and we went through a tough time with Covid.”

A WRU spokesperson said: “We continue to respect Amanda and thank her for her contributions whilst on PRB and the WRU board.

“All aspects of the WRU’s investment in rugby are hugely important; in addition, in line with best practice, the WRU will always keep reviewing its governance.”

For more watch Wales Live on BBC One Wales at 22:35 BST on Wednesday, 15 June or on iPlayer.

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