Female worker ‘sexually assaulted at Principality Stadium’ but not included in misogyny report

File photo dated 26-11-2016 of General view of the Principality Stadium, Cardiff. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday January 26, 2017. Press Association Sport looks at the six stadiums being used for the 2017 RBS Six Nations
File photo dated 26-11-2016 of General view of the Principality Stadium, Cardiff. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday January 26, 2017. Press Association Sport looks at the six stadiums being used for the 2017 RBS Six Nations

A woman has claimed she was sexually assaulted in a cupboard at the Principality Stadium while working at the home of Welsh rugby.

The victim, who was subject to two attacks, during her time working at the iconic Cardiff venue has bravely spoken out about her ordeal, which was alleged to have been carried out by a work colleague between 2019 and 2021.

No mention of the incident was featured in a damning report into sexism and misogyny at the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU), which underlined the “toxic” and “vindictive” behaviour within the organisation when it was released in November 2023.

A culture of bullying and discrimination was highlighted after more than 50 witnesses or groups of witnesses – including past and present players – were interviewed for the review.

The woman revealed she froze with fear when the man carried out the cupboard assault.

She said: “He was waiting there in the cupboard in the office. He pulled the door shut and wedged me up against some of the stock and sexually assaulted me. I just froze, which I hate. I hate myself for it because I didn’t do [anything].

“I was just in shock as he was in my face. From the moment he had done it I just wanted to be invisible. He said he would never do it again and he came in to collect some post one day and he wasn’t supposed to be in work.

“He came up, it was just after Covid and we were just coming back in. He came and found me and said you are going to have to come down to the office in a minute “In my head, I knew but stupidly I went. We got to the office and I thought I am not going to sit down so I stood by the door.”

She added: “He knew then I wasn’t going to come in so as we came out he grabbed my behind. I thought he’s done it again, it took me back to the first time straight away like that. I just froze again.”

The woman claimed the accused laughed in the wake of what had happened and said “see you tomorrow”.

She took the step of messaging him, and received a reply that said “I’m sorry it will never happen again.”

“Basically he admitted it, which I showed the stadium [management],” she said. “I hated going to work, I was always jumpy when people would walk past me in the offices and I would jump and they would be like calm down.”

She said the bullying culture was common knowledge within the stadium.

“He kept bullying everyone,” she said. “People in the department and people all over the WRU knew about it – even people in the shop.”

She added: “One day I was sat in the car park in work and I messaged the line manager and told her everything.

“He resigned as soon as he caught wind that I had spoken up. He got a new job straight away.”

Her allegations are among the most serious to surface after claims were exclusively revealed in March 2022 that a former Welsh Rugby Union employee had accused individuals within the governing body of joking about raping her and comparing her to Hitler.

The female complainant underlined there was a culture of sexism and misogyny within the Welsh Rugby Union.

Thirty-six recommendations were made, including governance, complaints handling, the union’s approach to inclusion and diversity, and investment in the women’s game following an independent report.

The latest victim said she believed that her case and others like hers should have been at the heart of the review into the WRU.

On being asked, she said: “Yes, I’m disgusted really. To get the full picture you have to look at everything. You feel like they have just brushed me under the carpet. I was a problem that they just wanted covered really and never brought to light.

“It’s changed every part of my life. I don’t go out, I have nightmares. I have panic attacks. It’s just not me.”

She said she had taken the decision to talk about what had happened during her time at the WRU to protect other women.

“I want it to stop. I want women to feel safe where they work and for people not to cover things up and feel like they can speak up. I didn’t feel like I could and for work to be a safe place.

“I hated the place. It was like living a nightmare. No amount of counselling or making my job easier was going to get me back in that building.”

The victim said she did not go to the police over fears she would not be believed and the WRU is not subject to any ongoing police investigation.

Previous allegations centred on a man making sexist remarks about the Wales women’s team in 2020 claiming they did not know what it was like to be professional rugby players as they had only played “a bit of netball” and athletics.

It was further claimed that WRU staff used racist terms such as “p---” on a Zoom call, behaviour which was ignored.

The situation at the WRU led the former chief executive Steve Phillips to quit the governing body in January 2023 and has gone on to be replaced by Abi Tierney in January of this year.

It led the organisation to overhaul its 12-strong board, including former Wales internationals Claire Donovan and Jamie Roberts.

In response to the claims, Tierney said: “Firstly, it is vitally important for me, on behalf of everyone at the Welsh Rugby Union, to formally apologise directly to the individual involved. The behaviour described is totally unacceptable and was not ever, and will not ever, be tolerated.

“Our culture did not prevent such an incident from happening and, whilst we know our People team worked hard to offer support and care over an extended period of time, some of our HR policies for addressing such incidences were not right. We have said already that we regret the use of non-disclosure settlements or similar arrangements where employment ended.

“More widely, I would like to reiterate the full apology both myself and others have previously offered to anyone who has been affected by issues and challenges highlighted by our recent Independent Review.

“Although the person has wished to remain anonymous, from the description of the circumstances, it is our understanding that this is one of the cases examined by the Review and in this way has already fed the recommendations for change that we are committed to deliver. The Review gives us a roadmap to continuous improvement and our current progress against the recommendations can be found here.

“The Review was conducted independently to the WRU. However, we know that the Review Team made many direct approaches and had an open call for people to speak to them and we co-operated with and encouraged this. Specifically, we made it clear that we would be happy for anyone to speak freely with the Review Team, including those who had left employment and were the subject of confidentiality arrangements. People who spoke to the Review team did so on a confidential basis. We therefore cannot confirm and do not know whether this person decided to speak to the Review or not.

“We continue to encourage people to access our whistleblowing line if they are uncomfortable speaking to their line management about any issues. As we have already said, we understood that historical cases may come forward during and after the Review period. We continue to welcome dialogue with anyone involved or affected by any of the issues raised, so that we can apologise to them and continue to learn and improve.”

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