Decorated army officer new manager at Millennium Stadium
A DECORATED former army officer from Glynneath has been appointed as the new manager of the Millennium Stadium.
Mark Williams, an ex-lieutenant colonel in the Royal Welsh, takes over from Gerry Toms, who described the job as the best in Wales before stepping down earlier this year.
Williams has 20 years’ experience as an army officer and has served on multiple tours of duty in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq.
Now aged 42, he was decorated for his actions in combat in Iraq where, as a company commander, he led 135 Welsh soldiers on countless dangerous missions into Basra during the height of the fighting in 2007.
In his new role he will have full responsibility for the operation of the Millennium Stadium, which is wholly owned and operated by the Welsh Rugby Union.
Williams said: “I am deeply honoured to be joining the WRU in such an important role and I relish the challenges and opportunities this represents for me.
“As a proud Welshman and rugby supporter I understand the important place the stadium holds in the whole psyche and culture of Wales.
“It enjoys a great reputation for delivering excellence and I will be working hard to sustain and build on that in the months and years ahead.
“The WRU has already established a superb international rugby sporting calendar for several years ahead and I know the interest in the stadium as a major venue for music and important events is intense.
“We have to maintain high standards and adapt where necessary to make sure that everyone who uses the stadium enjoys a unique and rewarding experience.
“I know my military and leadership experience will serve me well and I look forward to working with a great team at the WRU.
“This is the right time in my career to be making a move of this sort and I am grateful to the WRU for giving me this fantastic opportunity.”
Williams will join the WRU later this month and take a place on the governing body’s executive board.
His appointment completes the WRU executive team, with the announcement coming just a week after Josh Lewsey was recruited as head of rugby.
Group chief executive Roger Lewis said: “I am delighted to welcome Mark Williams to the organisation in this crucial role at such an exciting time.
“We will soon be welcoming the Rugby League World Cup to Cardiff and then our Dove Men Autumn Series kicks off with games against South Africa, Argentina, Tonga and Australia.
“I am confident that Mark has the leadership and management skills to grasp these opportunities to continue to build on the fantastic reputation as an international events venue the stadium now enjoys.
“His military background speaks of precision, determination and clear strategic thinking which will all set him in good stead for the stadium manager role.
“He will be managing a strong and experienced team and I know he has the vision and ambition to get the best out of a great group of people.
“The stadium is a symbol of Wales and Mark is fully aware of the responsibility which is inherent in the role he is about to take on.”