Welsh Rugby Wrangle

Today, for the first time in the 16-year history of, I had to pull an article from the website.

The article, published last week, was one of the best-researched pieces of writing about Welsh rugby I had read in a long time, and it was very well-received by readers of this website and our followers on social media.

I didn’t write the article myself, I hasten to add. The author had put a lot of hard work and diligence into the piece, and I know he is very disappointed that it has had to be taken down.

Now I’ll move on to tell you why I felt I had to remove the article.

At lunchtime today I had a message from the author, telling me that he had been contacted by Simon Rimmer, the Welsh Rugby Union’s Corporate Communications Manager. Rimmer was complaining about two paragraphs in the article where the author had quoted Rimmer. Rimmer claims that his words were taken out of context and that he understood the interview was “off the record.”

The interview was carried out as research for the author’s university dissertation, which Rimmer was well aware of when he was interviewed. The interview was also recorded by the author, to ensure any quotations were 100% accurate.

Rimmer’s assumption that the interview was “off the record” therefore seems either naive or disingenuous.

Whatever the reason for this assumption, the fact remains that Rimmer cannot contest that the article quotes the actual words that he used. Those words don’t make comfortable reading for the WRU.

There are some other rather disturbing aspects to this case.

The article was published a week ago, on 31st May. Why did it take the WRU 7 days to decide Rimmer’s words had been quoted out of context?

Secondly,  Rimmer not only objected to the author quoting him from a recorded interview, he also suggested a replacement form of words that the author could insert into the article. This is what Rimmer wanted us to publish:

“Discussions between the WRU and RRW are ongoing, regular and positive but we are not in a position at the moment to discuss the content or comment on conjecture.”

This isn’t anything like what Rimmer said in the original interview. In fact, it is almost the opposite. There can be no confusion over context here: Rimmer is quite clearly trying to change his entire message.

Having discussed this with the author this afternoon, I decided that there was no way I would accept Rimmer’s demands to substantially change the article. Instead, I decided to pull the article altogether. I felt that I could not refuse without putting the author in a very difficult position where he was likely to attract more unwanted attention from the WRU.

If it had been me who had written the article, I’d have refused to change a single word. Those of you who have read the original will agree that there is no ambiguity over the words Rimmer used.

It is a real shame that this happened. This was one of the best articles we have ever published. The analysis of the particular issues and research were far more rigorous than anything I’ve read in the mainstream media over the past year or so.

That the WRU are prepared to go to these lengths to quash debate over the current issues in Welsh rugby demonstrates that they have, in the words of Roger Lewis, “lost the airwaves.”

In acting in this bullying manner, they have merely made the situation worse for themselves. This has shone a light on the way in which our governing body works. It is not a pretty picture.

26 thoughts on “Welsh Rugby Wrangle”

  1. Geraint (sorry) Thomas has looked at my LinkedIn profile and fabricated a story about his fabricated lodger meeting me. Bloody hell.

    1. Dan, I’m not a technical genius, but can Gwlad admin see a poster’s IP address when they post here on this front page?

    2. On the plus side, at least he never has arguments about whose milk is that in the fridge. But he would spend more on birthday cards.

      It’s swings and roundabouts.

  2. Rottent to the core – As an exile looking in, and others from outside our land, the situation of such a narissistic regime in the WRU is insane.

    Those of you trying to defend the WRU are equally insane. For cripes sake, get these clubs (shareholders) out of their laissez faire thinking and sack the board.

  3. Although I never read the original article, I can understand why you have chosen to remove the article in question. In all fairness, it’s the right choice.

  4. First thing you will ever learn on any PR training, is that there is no such thing as off the record. It simply doesn’t exist. A journalist may chose not to publish certain information for a number of reasons – to cultivate the trust of a sauce (sic), perhaps to protect the interviewee from a mistake they have made, there are a number of reasons. And, of course, many things are said ‘off the record’ with the sole intention of getting them out into the media.

    But, for a media manager to say something is off the record and not expect it to be published is, well, and I’m speaking ‘off the record here’, remarkably naive at best.

    1. I remember watching Yes, Prime Minister where Sir Bernard says some things in front of a live mic….

  5. Dan has already stated that it was pulled to protect the author from being placed in a difficult position with The WRU . As Dan said, if he had written it himself, it would still be up, un-altered

  6. Thomas – the same has happened to me. I would say though it’s only on posts written by Dan everyone else seems more than happy to open debate here.

    I assume Dan you’ve listened to these recordings and now exactly what was said or are you simply manipulating the facts to your liking again?

    You rant so much about the lack of transparency in Welsh media when you clearly have your own agenda and will not listen to anyone less point of view.

    You are a blight on the Gwlad rugby website and you are bringing everyone down to your level of disingenuous self-satisfying agenda

      1. I, for one, never “will not listen to anyone less point of view.”

        And that’s MY policy.

  7. In fairness, you constantly delete any comments critical of and/or pointing out mistakes in articles posted. How long will this comment survive? And you didn’t have to pull the article, as you were not subject to a court order. You elected to pull the article. It’s difficult to see what the WRU could do if you had refused to amend or pull the article. As you say, and if you had written it, you would have refused to change a single word.

    1. As he stated, it was done out of respect for the trainee journalist who wrote the article.

    2. Hello Geraint Powell. I’m going to leave this comment here so that your distorted logic is made plain for all to see.

      I pulled the article to protect the author from WRU bullying, which I made clear above.

      I look forward to your next tranche of illiterate excrement.

      1. That’s fine by us. Tom finally gets a comment posted that is not censored and I get a profitable cause of action. You are seriously deluded if, other than this right to reply now that it has been drawn to my attention, you think I would ever personally post any comment on your websites. That’s a point of principle.

        1. Geraint. “Tom” is your pseudonym. Can we just accept this and move on?


          Everything you write on here is still excrement, by the way.

          1. Dan,

            A tip for the future. When you accuse Person B of being a figment of Person A’s imagination, and I know post-rugby alcohol is a terrible thing, it is rather important not to forget that you didn’t actually meet Person B in the flesh 3 years previously and have a good chat. That was rather an important oversight, wouldn’t you agree? I will leave you to explain to others why you were face to face discussing your hockey days at Sidney Sussex to a fellow Cantab graduate and providing two Cardiff dining tips to a figment of Pooler’s imagination. If you ever bothered to read what I have posted, you would grasp that I have some very different views to Pooler on quite a few aspects of Welsh rugby. But thanks for not deleting my comment on this sole occasion. I think the underlying concept of free speech would be to leave my comments up and let others decide whether they are excrement. But I guess this is Wales, and censorship rules as you point out. Your dining tips were excellent, by the way.


  8. Absolutely appalling, but not unexpected, from an organisation that has continuously proved themselves incompetent.
    The expression “In the best interest of Welsh rugby” has been lost on them, but the greatest shame is that the clubs of the WRU have failed to recognise the ineptitude shown by their leaders and, to date, have failed to remove them from their positions.
    Enough is enough. It is time for wide scale change.

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