World rugby crisis as coronavirus uncertainty leads to job cuts and bankruptcy

Will Macpherson
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The stark reality of Covid-19’s impact on global rugby has been laid bare by job cuts in Australia, USA Rugby filing for bankruptcy and World Rugby being forced to “assess the viability of the July Test window”.

Closer to home, the RFU last week forecast losses of £50million, which will be worsened if southern hemisphere teams are unable to fulfil Tests in November as they scramble to complete Super Rugby. Australia have already warned this is a possibility.

“We are in constant dialogue with World Rugby to make sure we are in a strong position to restart rugby as soon as we are able to,” said an RFU statement. Rugby Australia today described standing down 75 per cent of their workforce from tomorrow until June 30 as “the toughest decision in the game’s history”.

The remaining staff have been offered significant salary reductions or reduced hours. Yesterday, the players said they expected 30-50 per cent pay cuts.

Rugby Australia have taken such significant action based on “projecting a worst-case scenario of up to $120m loss in revenue should the Super Rugby season and the entire Wallabies domestic Test calendar be cancelled”.

Raelene Castle, RA’s chief executive, who has taken a 50 per cent salary cut, said: “Today we have had to deliver the hardest news imaginable.”

Australia are due to host Ireland in July, with England set to travel to Japan.

World Rugby say they are trying to see whether these games could go ahead.

“These are challenging times for everyone in sport and wider society,” said a World Rugby spokesperson.

USA Rugby admitted they had already had “existing financial challenges” but the move to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy had been “accelerated by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

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