WRU – TRANSPARENCY IS CRUCIAL
At the outset of the Covid-19 crisis, the WRU wondered if staying at home might jeopardise its community relations. Yet by embracing IT platforms, relationships might be the strongest they have ever been, says Community Director Geraint John:
“It’s been a strange 12 months but we have achieved a lot despite the restrictions. We have completed a great deal of work on our community strategy which is due to be published later this year and we’re making significant progress on a number of other projects – we’re reviewing the Hub programme, our competitions as well as how to best recognise and support volunteers. We are also in the middle of drafting a new inclusion and diversity strategy.”
Accountability and transparency is a key theme of the Governance and Leadership Framework for Wales and the WRU has worked hard to ensure its actions and decisions stand up to scrutiny:
“People in Wales are passionate about rugby which means that lots of people have an opinion on how things should be done.
“At the outset of any new strategy or model, we make sure that our clubs and our stakeholders can come along with us. We make sure that the process is fully transparent. We won’t please everyone but no-one can say they don’t know what we are doing or how we have come to a decision.”
Geraint believes that the organisation has improved relationships with its wide range of stakeholders. “I’ve had more conversations with people from my living room over the last 12 months than I ever would have done before.”
With each workstream – whether it is the Community Strategy, a new finance model or a competition review – the WRU appoints a national advocacy group with terms of reference and guidelines. It has a clear process which explains how information will be sourced and how the WRU will report back.
“If we come up with a recommendation, we have a checklist to make sure we have carried out every step of the consultation. It means that we have a sound decision-making and monitoring framework in place and our processes and decisions are robust and transparent. We have a duty to be more engaged.”
The WRU’s efforts to engage people extend off the pitch. Welsh rugby has access to clubhouses across Wales and there is a drive to transform them into centres for the community where people can get together – perhaps for health and wellbeing, playgroups and social activities.
“We’ve realised during Covid that our rugby clubs have been a huge source of community strength but are they as welcoming as they could be to everybody? How else could they support people? Are we partnering with the right people?
“We are interested in supporting people and not just at 2:30pm on a Saturday afternoon!”
An example of the WRU’s people-centred approach is its work with the School of Hard Knocks. As Covid-19 started to impact on unemployment levels, the two
organisations teamed up to deliver online sessions which cover CV writing, wellbeing, and physical activity. The aim is to provide people with a boost to bounce back into employment.
As well as having conversations with stakeholders, Geraint has also enjoyed sharing ideas with other sports.
“As a small country, we definitely need to put our heads together more and that’s something that has really come about because of the pandemic. Vibrant Nation’s Business Continuity webinars which follow each 21-day review has helped us keep up-to-date with policy changes and allowed us to learn from our peers.
“I now talk with people in similar positions about coaching, research, growing the game and recruiting volunteers. The WSA has been outstanding in bringing us together and, post-Covid, I’d hate to lose the friendship of other sports. We must continue to grow sport in Wales as part of a sporting family.”