Hugh James’ managing partner, Alun Jones, has been appointed chairman of Cardiff Blues, one of the professional Welsh rugby regions. He replaces Peter Thomas who will stand down in the New Year.
Last summer it was revealed that the 75-year-old would hand over the reins of Cardiff Blues following more than 22-years at the helm.
Thomas will remain a director of the company and has been named Life President, with Cardiff legal professional Jones becoming the new chairman on January 1.
Thomas said: “The journey over the last 22 years has had its ups and downs but it is one I have been privileged to be part of and thoroughly cherished.
“I joined Cardiff RFC as a youth player in 1961 and played throughout the 60s for both the first team and the Rags.
“Along with Sir Gareth Edwards I was privileged to become a founding member of the board when the game went professional in 1996.
“The club has played a massive part in our lives and will continue to do so. Our vision is to take this region back to the top of European rugby.
“I would like to thank the shareholders and supporters for the immense support and loyalty they have given me. My special thanks also goes to my colleagues on the Cardiff Blues board, a few of whom were founding members with me.
“The events of the last two years have seen us develop Project Reset for the four regions and the WRU and this has created the way forward for the professional game in Wales.
“With this in mind, it was the right time for me to take a step back and a search was undertaken to find a successor.
“A specialist company was engaged to seek suitable candidates and this was narrowed down to a four-person shortlist who were interviewed by a selection panel. The selection panel were in unanimous agreement.
“Alun is a life-long Cardiff and Cardiff Blues supporter, a former Ysgol Glantaf schoolboy, who won a Welsh schools cap.
“He is now Managing Partner of Hugh James, one of Wales’ leading businesses, and is hugely experienced in developing growth strategies and management across numerous levels.”
Jones joined Hugh James –Wales leading and a top 100 UK law firm – in 1992 and progressed to become a partner. In 2011, he took the helm as the firm’s Managing Partner (Chief Executive).
Hugh James has offices in Cardiff and London and employs around 750 staff, mostly from Cardiff and the South Wales region. Alun will combine his roles at the helm of Hugh James and the Cardiff Blues, using his business experience and close personal ties to the region to continue the evolution and expansion of the Cardiff Blues in line with the board’s vision.
With the new Professional Rugby Agreement (PRA) between the four regions and the Welsh Rugby Union near completion, there is a shift away from private benefaction towards a renewed focus on creating sustainable, collaborative business plans.
The 48-year-old, who has a long-standing passion for rugby and has been a regular at Cardiff Arms Park, said: “I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to play a part in the next chapter of the Cardiff Blues story. I have a tough act to follow in Peter but I know I have his full support and that of the board, who have done so much to establish the Cardiff Blues region in the professional era.
“I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and to meeting the supporters and sponsors, players and staff at both Cardiff Blues and the region’s clubs.
“This is a hugely exciting time for Cardiff Blues and the clubs within the region as we push forward with our objectives of being at the forefront of European rugby, developing more international and representative players across all age-grades, abilities and genders and promoting a strong community game.”
Cardiff Blues chief executive Richard Holland has welcomed the appointment and reiterated his gratitude to Thomas for his contribution to Welsh rugby.
Holland added: “It’s great to welcome Alun to the Cardiff Blues board as our new chairman and we are very excited about the future. Our vision is to see Cardiff Blues competing at the very top of European rugby.
“He has all the business acumen and credentials to guide us towards this goal, is a passionate rugby man and long-time season ticket holder at the Arms Park.
“Peter will remain on the Cardiff Blues board as our life president and we will always be indebted to him for his enormous contribution to Cardiff RFC, Cardiff Blues and Welsh rugby in general.
“Without the unwavering support of Peter over the last 22 years, Cardiff Blues simply would not exist and for that we are eternally grateful.”