Have the Welsh Rugby Union found their new CEO?

Ben Morel

The Welsh Rugby Union badly needs governance change to turn around their poor performances at all levels, both on and off the field. A new CEO is badly needed to professionalise the way the game is run and the ideal candidate may have been found….

Welsh Rugby Union requires governance change

The professional and community game is currently dictated to by the member clubs, most of whom can see the broader picture and positives of modernising the Welsh Rugby Union’s governance model. Unfortunately, old-school ‘villagist’ thoughts and gatekeeping mean the clubs retain control of major business and professional decisions due to harsh voting requirements and shocking decisions.

Just a few weeks ago, over 270 votes were cast in a motion that would see a professional, independent Chair take over Rob Butcher. Instead, the motion failed to pass due to it not reaching the 75% of votes required to allow the motion to come to fruition.

We have ended up with former international Ieuan Evans in the seat. A man renowned all over the world – for his rugby skills, not his business or administration ones. We should be seeing a business professional overseeing the £100m governing body, not an ex-player and current British and Irish Lions Chair.

Ieuan is a great man, no doubt, but this isn’t the role for him. Jobs for the boys?

In a climate where we’ve seen FTSE100 Directors Amanda Blanc and Andrew Williams walk away from the game with their immense knowledge of running successful businesses, we should be inviting professional names into the game, not shutting them out.

Perfect candidate waiting in the stands…

With the financial year ending after the 2023 Six Nations, and the season ending a month after that, the perfect candidate is lined up should the Welsh Rugby Union choose to make the big call.

That man is Ben Morel, the outgoing CEO of Six Nations Rugby. He has over 20 years’ experience working as the Vice-President and Managing Director of NBA Europe before taking up the rugby mantle in October 2018.

Prior to his appointment with the NBA, he spent four years studying at ESCP Business School, attaining an education in International Business Affairs and Sport Management.

Morel announced he’d be stepping down as the CEO of the Six Nations last month having raised its profile massively. Welsh fans would be keen to note he was critical in the £365m CVC deal, as well as re-vitalising the women’s side of the competition. The linking up of the women’s tournament with TikTok has increased exposure and knowledge of the women’s game tenfold.

Morel led the fight to retain free-to-air coverage in all of the six territories involved, as well as gaining valuable commercial income from the Amazon Prime deal.

“I am at the stage in my life when I want to tackle other personal and professional projects,” said Morel.

If the Welsh Rugby Union do go with Ben, then it would definitely be a boost and a step in the right direction of a split in the governance of the community and professional game, which would undoubtedly lift on and off-field performances at all levels.


“Main photo credit”