Abi Tierney has been appointed the first female chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) as the governing body looks to move past sexism allegations within the organization.

Tierney will replace interim chief executive Nigel Walker, who held the role following Steve Phillips' resignation in January 2023 over allegations of institutional misogyny and sexism within the WRU. Walker has since been appointed as the governing body's new executive director of rugby.

Tierney will join the WRU before the end of the year, joining from the UK government's Home Office department, where she acts as the director general for customer services and ethics advisor and chair of their people committee.

Tierney previously held jobs as regional director and chief executive of Suffolk Community Services, as well as the business development director at Serco Health. Tierney was also a director at University Hospitals of Leicester and Aberdeen City Council and was previously the marketing leader for IBM's global services business.

Her appointment follows Richard Collier-Keywood becoming the first WRU independent chair earlier this year.

Tierney said: “I relish the chance to make a lasting positive difference at such a critical time. My passion and commitment for this role is unquestionable and I feel a huge sense of pride having grown up in a family where rugby has been a constant and positive force in our lives.

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"Rugby has the ability to enable life chances and develop people on and off the pitch. In this role, I intend to take that heritage and the skills and learning I have gathered in my career to deliver the significant cultural advancement Welsh rugby deserves.

"I have a track record in positively shaping an organization's culture. I will do my utmost to promote belonging, trust, understanding, and mutual support at all levels in Welsh rugby."

Collier-Keywood added: “Abi's appointment is a major coup for Welsh rugby. She has worked successfully across the private and public sectors in delivering commercial value and improving the culture of some complex organizations.

"Her mantra of 'putting customers at the heart of everything we do' bodes well for the many fans of rugby in Wales."

Last month the WRU signed a multi-year shirt sponsorship deal with Welsh financial services comparison company Go.Compare.

The seven-figure deal will see the Go.Compare logo feature on the back of all WRU teams’ kits, including the men’s and women’s senior and junior international teams. It will be the first-ever back-of-shirt sponsor for the senior men’s and women’s teams.

The month prior telecommunications giant Vodafone was announced as the new front-of-shirt sponsor for the senior men’s Wales rugby union team as part of a new multi-year partnership expansion with the WRU.

Vodafone became the principal partner of the men’s senior squad and pathway teams, including the U20s and U18s, adding to its existing WRU deal as a principal partner of the Wales women and girls’ rugby teams.