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Paterson predicts watershed moment for Welsh Rugby

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JULIE PATERSON is easily the Welsh Rugby Union’s longest serving senior figure – having been appointed to its inaugural executive board 12 years ago as Head of Compliance and, since, moving on to a second executive position as Head of Rugby Operations in 2015.

She has walked the corridors of power at Welsh Rugby’s headquarters in a variety of different roles over three decades but, still only 47-years-old, she is as enthusiastic as she has ever been about the future of our national game.

Speaking during a period of rapid modernisation for Welsh Rugby and on International Women’s Day, she is confident the first entirely elected female Board member will be voted in by WRU member clubs within the next two years – joining Aileen Phillips who was appointed as a non-elected director in 2015 – in what will be a ‘watershed moment’ for the game.

“There is wide acceptance from our clubs and the Board that it should be the best person for the job regardless,” says Ms Paterson, who was appointed to the first executive board in 2005.

“I think in the next 18 months to two years we will see our first female board director elected by the clubs. We are not about token gestures when it comes to encouraging women to step forward in our game, but we know that there are great women working out in the clubs.

“We work with them all the time, and it’s just about making sure we encourage them to have the courage to take that one step forward and give it a go.”

Her own story would inspire many to do just that. In the 90s she admits she was very much a ‘woman in a man’s world’, but growing up in rugby-mad Cardiff household with her parents, Cliff and Angela, three brothers, Neil, Gareth and Michael – and a grand-father Ted John, who was an archetypal Arms Park club man – she has never felt out of place.

“I don’t think anybody realised that the WRU was the first Union to have a woman on its executive staff,” she says.

“We were the first Union to take that step, other unions have moved that way now, the RFU and the French, but when I was first on the exec board there were no other women at that level in rugby.

“I was an anomaly, I’d turn up to ERC (European Rugby Cup) meetings and they’d think I was the interpreter. I find it quite entertaining sometimes to see those who have known me for a really long time, watch as someone new, who hasn’t met me before, tries and work out what part I’m going to play in the meeting.

“Then you walk into the room and everyone sits down behind their microphones and I sit down behind ‘Welsh Rugby’ and you see it dawn on the faces that I am not the interpreter or the caterer – I get quite a good laugh out of that and then we all get on with business.”

Ms Paterson makes no apology for a forthright attitude, in the right context, in fact she makes an attribute out of it and would advise and positively encourage any woman wishing to track her footsteps to follow suit.

Personally she puts success down to a sense of self-confidence instilled in her at an early age and whilst she is strident in her view that women should – and will – have equal opportunities to men when it comes to joining a modern, forward thinking Welsh Rugby Union, she is firmly against any kind of positive discrimination as part of the process.

WOMEN IN RUGBY WAITING IN THE WINGS

“I’m not into quotas.” she continued, “What we are saying is that it’s about providing the opportunity to women in equal measure.

“I don’t think anyone is entitled to anything in life, you have to work for it, but the opportunity should be there for everyone.

“We’ve advertised for quite a few staffing roles over the last few years, everyone’s been allowed to apply and it’s about the best people for the job. If that person is a man then there is no issue. If the best person for the job is a woman and a man gets the job then I would have an issue.

“I never applied for promotion, not once, but I would still be doing things the same way if I was still finance manager. Not in a million years did I ever envisage I would be at executive board level. Being the only girl with three brothers, my parents both had the same attitude on day one, ‘she is no different to the boys’.

“I never thought I was going to be doing what I’m doing now, but that is something that has stuck with me and stood me in good stead in the wider world. You can’t be precious, you can’t be getting offended when you turn up to somewhere and they think you’re bringing in the catering, those things can be moved passed quickly.”

YOU CAN EARN YOUR STRIPES IN DIFFERENT WAYS

She has two daughters, Olivia who is 20 and studying law at University in Leicester and Jessica, 24, who is an architect.

Given her own experience and her current knowledge of the WRU’s vision for the future, would she ask her own daughters to get involved with Welsh rugby and what sage advice would she offer?

“Absolutely,” she says, “We have to be careful that we don’t put women off getting involved in the game just because they may not have played.

“We’ve got some really good women working throughout our clubs. Aberdare and Mold are two great examples where women are at the centre of the clubs and they are very much involved in every aspect of managing things.

“There’s two different things, there’s pushing participation – and I agree everyone should be given the same opportunities, boys or girls – but I also think that women getting involved in the game, regardless of whether they played or not, is something we need to concentrate more on and indeed we are, because you can earn your stripes in different ways.

“You have to be in it to change it and don’t ever think that you are not good enough to put yourself forward. It is about backing yourself and just having the courage of your convictions.”

So how did one of the most powerful women in Welsh sport arrive in this position, how has she stayed so long and what are the attributes that will allow others to step out of the shadows they may be in at club level, or elsewhere, and follow?

Ms Paterson has overseen some historic moments in the Welsh rugby in her time, from the implementation of National Dual Contracts to the drawing up, revision and day-to-day working of the Rugby Services Agreement that currently serves as the bedrock of the professional game in Wales.

She represents the Union on a variety of World Rugby committees, Olympic committees, in Europe, on PRO12 matters and sits on our own rugby management board and PRGB which deals with issues at regional level – but has being a women made a difference to her professional working life?

“I think its fine to ask the question, I honestly think that being a woman in rugby or sport, I can work with coaches and players on sensitive matters,” she says, “Because I’m not seen as someone who is directly competing with them. Because I’ve not been an international rugby player or an international coach and because I’ve earned my stripes over time, I would like to think they just accept me and trust me fully.

“The Regions, for example, have never had an issue with me representing their interests, they’ve always very much been about ‘the best person for the job’ whether it’s a woman or a man. I think that is where we are now.”

TRY, TRY, AND TRY AGAIN

Finally then, the WRU has been very public in its ambition to promote women throughout the game and in particular, increase diversity on its Board.

But Paterson, often the champion of clubs – as you might think – has always been an advocate of the good work done by both sexes on and off the field throughout the game, so what is different and does she welcome a new approach?

“Of course it’s welcome, but I’ve always been that way myself,” she added.

“Like I say, you can’t be too precious, because you’ve got to be in it to change it. You can’t change it from the outside. You can sit outside and keep getting frustrated about things that aren’t happening but unless you just step up and say ‘well I may have to swallow my pride on this one, but if it gets us to the end goal then so be it’ – only then over time will you earn people’s respect and start to affect change.

“You might fail on the first time of trying but just keep going. If I’d given up on the first time of trying I wouldn’t have got past 1990.

“Don’t let your own nervousness get in the way of allowing that opportunity at any level. We want our workforce to grow not reduce. We don’t want anyone to be replaced or women to take the place of a man, we just want everyone to have the opportunity to come to the fore, man or woman. That’s all it is.”

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Have your say on how Ceredigion becomes a more physically active county

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Sport

A CONSULTATION is currently underway on how Ceredigion is becoming a more physically active County. 

There is a plan to follow the “Sport & Recreational Activity Strategy 2014-2020” which is being developed, with an opportunity for Ceredigion residents to have their say.

Your feedback will be essential in supporting Ceredigion County Council’s production of a new development plan and in helping determine its priorities from 2022 to 2027. This will ensure that Ceredigion residents have access to quality opportunities to become more active, benefiting their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

The new plan will identify how becoming a more active county can contribute to the Council’s Corporate Strategies and the Local Wellbeing Plan.

To ensure that the plan meets the needs of all its residents, the Council would like as many people and organisations as possible to complete the survey. Residents have until 17 October to complete the survey: https://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/your-council/consultations/physical-activity-development-plan/

Councillor Catherine Hughes, Ceredigion County Council Cabinet Member for Porth Gofal, Early Intervention, Wellbeing Hubs and Culture said: “The physical and mental health and well-being of Ceredigion’s residents is very important. This is a chance for residents to have their say on how they want to receive sport and physical activities for the years to come. We recognise the impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on sport and physical activity in the county and this is an opportunity to let us know how we can build back stronger.”

For further information or if you would like the survey in an alternative format, contact our Customer Services Contact Centre on 01545 570881 or clic@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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Dweud eich dweud ar sut y daw Ceredigion yn sir fwy egnïol yn gorfforol

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Chwaraeon

MAE YMGYNGHORIAD yn cael ei gynnal ar hyn o bryd ar sut mae Ceredigion yn dod yn Sir sy’n fwy egnïol yn gorfforol. 

Mae yna gynllun i ddilyn y “Strategaeth Chwaraeon a Gweithgareddau Hamdden 2014-2020” sy’n cael ei ddatblygu, gyda chyfle i drigolion Ceredigion ddweud eu dweud.

Bydd eich adborth yn hanfodol i gefnogi Cyngor Sir Ceredigion i greu cynllun datblygu newydd er mwyn pennu ei flaenoriaethau rhwng 2022 a 2027. Bydd hyn yn caniatáu i drigolion Ceredigion gael mynediad at gyfleoedd o safon i ddod yn fwy actif a fydd hefyd o fudd i’w hiechyd a’u lles corfforol a meddyliol.

Bydd y cynllun newydd yn nodi sut y gall fod yn sir fwy egnïol gyfrannu at Strategaethau Corfforaethol y Cyngor a’r Cynllun Lles Lleol.

I sicrhau bod y cynllun yn diwallu anghenion ei holl breswylwyr, hoffai’r Cyngor i gynifer o bobl a sefydliadau â phosibl gwblhau’r arolwg. Mae gan drigolion hyd at 17 Hydref i gwblhau’r arolwg: https://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/eich-cyngor/ymgynghoriadau/cynllun-datblygu-gweithgaredd-corfforol/.

Y Cynghorydd Catherine Hughes yw’r Aelod Cabinet Cyngor Sir Ceredigion ar gyfer Porth Gofal, Ymyrraeth Gynnar, Canolfannau Lles a Diwylliant. Dywedodd: “Mae iechyd a lles corfforol a meddyliol trigolion Ceredigion yn bwysig iawn. Dyma gyfle i’r trigolion ddweud eu dweud ar sut maen nhw eisiau derbyn chwaraeon a gweithgareddau corfforol am y blynyddoedd i ddod. Rydym yn cydnabod yr effaith y mae pandemig y coronafeirws wedi’i chael ar chwaraeon a gweithgarwch corfforol yn y sir ac mae hwn yn gyfle i roi gwybod i ni sut y gallwn ailadeiladu’n gryfach.”

Am fwy o wybodaeth neu os hoffech gael yr arolwg mewn fformat arall, cysylltwch â’n Canolfan Gyswllt Gwasanaethau Cwsmeriaid ar 01545 570881 neu clic@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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Three summer tests announced for Wales

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WALES will play three summer tests in Cardiff this July as revised international fixtures have been announced.

Wayne Pivac’s side will face Canada (July 3) and back-to-back games against Argentina (July 10 & 17) at Principality Stadium.

These tests replace the scheduled summer tour to Argentina which has had to be cancelled due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty around travel restrictions.

The Pumas will now travel to Cardiff for two tests against the Six Nations Champions.

Wales will kick off their summer campaign on July 3 at home to Canada. The Canucks who are coached by former Wales captains Kingsley Jones and Rob Howley will visit Cardiff for the first time since 2008.

“We are looking forward to this summer, the opportunity it presents, and we are delighted to have three tests confirmed,” said Wales head coach Wayne Pivac.

“It is disappointing not to have the opportunity to tour Argentina, especially on the back of our 2020 tour to New Zealand being cancelled, but in the current climate it is completely understandable.

“What is important is we have games and as we have said all along, this summer is a huge opportunity for us.   We are delighted and proud to have 10 players selected for the British & Irish Lions, it is reward for all their hard work and we wish them all the best this summer.

“With those players away we always earmarked this summer as an important development opportunity for us.

“It is an opportunity to bring players into this environment, look at them closely and expose them to test match rugby.  It is also an opportunity for current internationals to step-up into further leadership roles, so on both counts it is an important camp for us looking ahead to RWC2023.”

WRU CEO Steve Phillips added: “It is a huge credit to World Rugby that a full schedule of summer international rugby has been achieved against the backdrop of the global pandemic.

“Whilst it is obviously disappointing not to tour, we are delighted in Wales to be hosting Canada and to be able to honour the 2017 San Francisco agreement by hosting the Pumas for back-to-back matches, which will be hugely important to our international player development.

“Wayne has been adamant that his squad needs matches this summer and World Rugby have certainly delivered on that front.

“We are, of course, acutely aware of current restrictions and the ongoing and complex global COVID-19 picture. We will continue to monitor the situation in terms of any potential spectator access, but will remain entirely compliant and vigilant of all restrictions.

“In the current circumstances we are simply delighted to be able to play international rugby and any advance on that will be a bonus.”

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