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Rugby Australia makes salary cuts and stands down 75% of workforce

Meanwhile, Scottish Rugby has accounted pay deferrals for some of its biggest earners.

RUGBY AUSTRALIA HAS announced major cuts as it attempts to deal with the financial impact of the Covid-19 health crisis, calling the measures “the toughest decision in the game’s history.”

The Australian union confirmed today that 75% of its workforce will be stood down from tomorrow, 1 April, until 30 June.

Remaining staff have been offered “significant” salary reductions or reduced hours, with CEO Raelene Castle describing the measures as “the hardest news imaginable.”

rugby-raelene-castle-israel-folau-presser Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle. Source: AAP/PA Images

Castle has taken a 50% salary reduction, with the remaining executive staff across the Australian game taking at least a 30% salary reduction.

The union has yet to confirm the extent of salary cuts for Australian players but they are expected to be along similar lines, with discussion with the Rugby Union Players Association ongoing.

Rugby Australia says that in a worst-case scenario of the Super Rugby season and the Wallabies’ entire Test calendar being cancelled this year, it is projecting a $120m million (€67.2 million) loss in revenue.

Ireland’s scheduled two-Test tour to Australia in July is set to be cancelled, although there remains some hope that the Wallabies can play games in 2020.

With Super Rugby currently suspended, Rugby Australia has now also suspended its own plans to launch a five-team domestic competition given the advice of the Aussie government’s health experts.

The Rebels, Reds, and Brumbies have confirmed that all staff members have been stood down or had their salaries cut.

These moves in Australia follow the worrying developing of USA Rugby filing for bankruptcy in what is an extremely challenging time for the sport. 

“Today we have had to deliver the hardest news imaginable to our incredible, hard-working and passionate staff, that many of them will be stood down for a three-month period so that the game can survive this unprecedented crisis,” said Castle.

“Our extensive modelling shows that as a code, we could lose up to $120 million in revenue should it not be possible for any rugby to be played in 2020. Of course, that is the worst-case scenario, and we are very hopeful that we can recommence the Super Rugby season and domestic Wallabies Test matches at some point this year.

“The measures we will implement from April 1, although extremely painful, are necessary to ensure the sport remains financially viable and to ensure that we are able to come out the other side of this global crisis, fully-operational and ready to throw everything into the rebuild. It is our priority to keep all of our valued team connected and engaged through this period.”

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Meanwhile, Scottish Rugby has announced that CEO Mark Dodson will take a salary deferral of 30% from 1 April to 1 September, while other directors are facing a 25% salary/fees deferral.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend, Edinburgh boss Richard Cockerill, Glasgow’s Dave Rennie and Scottish Rugby’s director of performance rugby, Jim Malliner, have also agreed 25% salary deferrals for the same period.

“We are working extremely hard to navigate the sport of rugby in Scotland through these extremely challenging times,” said chairman of the Scottish Rugby board, Colin Grassie.

“We would like to thank all our staff, sponsors, stakeholders for their support and collaboration.

“We have a huge challenge ahead of us, but we will get there together and we will leave no stone left unturned to ensure the long term sustainability of Scottish Rugby and the sport in Scotland.”

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