SEXISM and misogyny in women’s sport in Wales must be stamped out, MPs have heard, as Welsh rugby bosses were urged to publish a key review.

Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi (Gower), who won nine caps representing Wales at rugby union, also suggested a Celtic or European league could be created which would help women’s rugby in Wales become more competitive.

“We need to know why there has been women on the executive board resign,” she said, telling the Commons “women and girls need our support in rugby in Wales”.

Speaking during a debate on Welsh affairs, Ms Antoniazzi said: “Last year, I wrote with 120 former players and coaches to the Welsh Rugby Union and we felt really strongly because women’s rugby in Wales was being badly, badly let down and you could have blamed many things.

“I played in 1996, a very long time ago, I didn’t really feel that things had moved on to be honest with you, and many former players felt that way.”

The MP said she was glad WRU chief executive Steve Phillips spoke to a small group of them and explained what the organisation’s plan were, including a review of women’s rugby.

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She added: “Similar happened in Ireland and the Irish women’s team put a letter together, they went to government as well, but their report was published.

“They had their report, they saw what it said.

“We need that to happen in Wales, for the Welsh Rugby Union to publish its review of women’s rugby in Wales.

“This publication would be ground-breaking in fast-tracking the female development of Welsh rugby for the next 10 years.”

Ms Antoniazzi labelled the WRU a “great organisation”, adding: “But you can always do better and I think it takes a great organisation to be honest with itself and to reflect on its mistakes, warts and all.

“If there is a sexist and misogynistic culture, it needs to be called out and it needs to be addressed.

“We need to know why there has been women on the executive board resign.

“We need to know why women are leaving the WRU.

“So will the Secretary of State make sure that in his conversations with the WRU, which I know he will have, that the WRU, not just the WRU in Wales but other governing bodies, you know, pressing to ensure that they are stamping out sexism and misogyny in women’s sport in Wales.

“Because that is something we are great in Wales, we are proud to be Welsh and we must make sure that this is gone.

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“And will he, like the Irish Government, ask the WRU to publish its review into women’s rugby so that we can accept the mistakes of the past and embrace a more equal future for women and girls?”

The National Wales: Tonia Antoniazzi speaking during a previous debate in the Commons. Picture: UK Parliament/Jessica TaylorTonia Antoniazzi speaking during a previous debate in the Commons. Picture: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

She asked the Secretary of State “if there is a culture of misogyny and sexism in that organisation and other governing bodies in Wales” if he would “help to stamp it out along with me?”

At present there is only one of the eight members of the WRU board is a woman while Amanda Blanc resigned her role in November last year. No reason was given for her departure but she had the support of the four Welsh professional sides that are at loggerheads with the governing body over how the top tier and community game should be governed.

The Gower MP also raised the prospect of an additional new league.

She said: “There is the potential for WRU, for the IRFU, for other countries’ governing bodies for rugby to come together and in coming together they can have a Celtic or a European league so that there is another level that young women and girls can strive… to play another level of rugby which is going to put us on a competitive stage with England, with France, with New Zealand, and we will be in the right place when it comes to the women’s Rugby World Cup again.”

In November the WRU announced it would be offering some women's players professional contracts.

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said: “I would love to meet her to talk about the youth element of the sport.

“It is a source of frustration and ambition as far as I am concerned, but it is of course devolved.”

When pressed by Ms Antoniazzi about the WRU report into women’s rugby, he later added: “When we undoubtedly meet in Cardiff for a rugby-based evening, I think in a couple of weeks, we can carry on that conversation with any luck.”

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