Welsh Rugby Union member clubs voted overwhelmingly in favour of governance reforms at an Extraordinary General Meeting on Sunday.
Of the 252 votes cast either at the Princess Royal Theatre in Port Talbot or by proxy, only seven did not vote in favour, meaning the 75 per cent majority needed was comfortably exceeded.
The WRU will now appoint an independent non-executive director (INED) as chair and recruit two further new INEDs to its 12-person board, doubling the total number of independent representatives to six, with the overall aspiration to ensure at least five directors are women.
Interim chief executive Nigel Walker said: “This is just the beginning of a journey which will see the trust and faith of a nation in Welsh rugby restored and revitalised.”
The governing body faced allegations of sexism and misogyny following a BBC Wales investigation as well as accusations of racism and homophobia, with Walker’s predecessor Steve Phillips resigning following criticism of the WRU’s handling of those allegations.
Previous attempts at instigating similar changes did not meet with sufficient approval from clubs but WRU officials pushed heavily for a positive result this time, arguing another failure could have serious repercussions.
Chair Ieuan Evans said following the vote: “I’m delighted with the support members have shown for the board’s recommendation today.
“From this moment on we will be much better equipped to overcome any challenges we may face and I thank all members for giving us the tools to do a better job on their behalf.
“The repercussions of a positive vote today are nothing short of momentous and I am genuinely excited about the latent potential of our national game at all levels.
“We will draft in the very best talent to help our elected board members. Each with a genuine and heartfelt interest and love for our game. But also with the business expertise, varied skills and acumen to see Welsh rugby soar.”
One new director role will be for someone who can support and further the women’s game.
Walker added: “We hope to complete the process for change by December this year, but the first steps will be taken immediately.
“There is a lot of hard work ahead of us but this is a genuinely uplifting moment in the history of our game.”