WELSH Rugby Union chief executive Martyn Phillips will leave his role in the summer.

Chairman Gareth Davies has already started the process of recruiting a successor for the former B&Q boss, who will have spent five years in the hotseat at Principality Stadium.

Phillips, who replaced Roger Lewis, was at the helm when the governing body took over the Dragons and bought Rodney Parade from Newport RFC.

Western Telegraph:

He oversaw governance change at the WRU while the Test team continued to have great success under Warren Gatland, with the chief executive playing a leading role in the introduction of the 60-cap rule that new head coach Wayne Pivac believes will prompt the return of international talent to the regions.

"When I joined the WRU I committed to Gareth that I would, as a minimum, stay until the Japan World Cup," said Phillips.

"As things turned out, there were priorities that needed to be addressed that have meant that I have extended my tenure, but I am now confident that the foundations are in place for Welsh rugby to thrive over the next few years as the global rugby landscape inevitably evolves.

"This role requires 100 per cent commitment which I knew when I joined – you are always on.

"I now feel that the time is right to transition to a new CEO and redress the balance to spend more time with my family.

"I have learnt a huge amount and hope that I will be able to stay involved in rugby in some capacity. I am fortunate in that I also have a range of other exciting opportunities in private equity that I have planned closer to home once the handover to the new CEO is complete later in the year.

"I will be leaving behind a loyal, hardworking and talented team in the WRU. Welsh rugby is in good hands."

Western Telegraph:

Chairman Davies, who locked horns with Phillips’ predecessor Roger Lewis when with the Dragons, paid tribute to the chief executive.

“Martyn has been an excellent chief executive,” said the former Wales international. “His energy and enthusiasm, coupled with his thoughtful leadership, have meant he has had a transformative impact on the business.

“Throughout his time with the WRU, Martyn has lived by his firm belief in the values of the game and the WRU and his behaviour and decision making have been informed by these without fail.

“He will leave the Union in a great place in the summer and I would like to personally thank him for all that he has achieved to date.

“But it is entirely in keeping with the man that he has given the WRU plenty of notice of his departure, we will continue to benefit from his expertise and diligence until the summer and we have crucially been able to begin the process to find a replacement already.

“Against a backdrop of a changing global landscape for rugby, the WRU is evolving as a business.

“With exciting capital projects aimed at providing sustainable income to support the game in Wales, such as the hotel project on Westgate Street, it is vital that we recruit someone who is as comfortable representing Welsh rugby internationally as they are working on sizeable commercial projects and directly with the clubs that make up our Union.”