Moffett steps down as WRU boss in surprise move

THE Welsh Rugby Union was in shock last night with the resignation of its group chief executive, David Moffett.

He is stepping down due to family reasons and will leave his post on December 31 to live in New Zealand.

The 58-year-old Australian joined the WRU in December 2002 and set about reducing close to £60 million (€87.9m) of debt and overseeing Wales’ move towards regional rugby.

Under his stewardship the WRU has turned a £3.7m (€5.4m) annual loss into a pre-tax profit of £3.6m (€5.27m) for 2004/2005.

On the pitch, Wales went from the wooden spoon in the 2003 Six Nations to their first grand slam for 28 years in 2005.

Moffett said: “My reasons for leaving are personal and family and I don’t have another job to go to, but we will be returning to live in New Zealand.

“In many respects it’s a lot like Wales and we’ve loved every minute of living in Wales, but our families are down in that part of the world.”

In March 2004, Moffett signed a four-year extension to his initial contract, thought to be worth more than £200,000 (€293,000) a year.

The WRU will not replace Moffett, instead asking general manager Steve Lewis and Millennium Stadium general manager Paul Sergeant to take over the responsibilities jointly.

WRU chairman David Pickering said: “On behalf of the WRU Group, I must put on record our thanks to David Moffett for his outstanding contribution over the past three years.

Moffett, who was born in England but emigrated to Australia more than 40 years ago, beat more than 100 applicants for the post in 2002.

His appointment came two weeks after he quit as the head of Sport England, citing frustrations with excessive bureaucracy while driving through a modernisation plan. His task with Welsh rugby was similar, tackling the outdated structure and self-interest that was holding Wales back.

But Moffett’s reforms, which this year proved a success, did not come without a cost. One cost-cutting measure was the scrapping of the Wales ‘A’ team, which has yet to be reinstated.

The move from nine top-flight clubs to five regional sides saw smaller clubs lose out in the reshuffle. Moffett had wanted just four regional sides in his original plan.

He has also been executive director of the New South Wales Rugby Union and the chief executive of the New Zealand Rugby Union.

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