Rugby

Australian union cuts 75% of staff due to coronavirus

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ByReuters
31/03/2020 at 06:28 | Updated 31/03/2020 at 06:30

MELBOURNE, March 31 (Reuters) - The Australian rugby union has stood down 75% of its staff to cut costs and forecast a loss of A$120 million ($74 million) in revenue if the coronavirus wipes out Super Rugby and the Wallabies' test schedule for the entire 2020 season.

The staff will be stood down from April 1-June 30 and remaining staff had been offered "significant" pay-cuts or reduced hours, Rugby Australia (RA) said on Tuesday.

"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," RA Chief Executive Raelene Castle said in a statement.

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RA is scrambling to keep the domestic game afloat following the suspension of Super Rugby earlier this month, which has cut vital broadcast revenue and match-day gate receipts.

The governing body has already said that the Wallabies' home tests against Ireland and Fiji are "very unlikely" to go ahead in July due to the coronavirus pandemic, placing further strain on the game's finances.

"Our extensive modelling shows that as a code, we could lose up to A$120 million in revenue should it not be possible for any rugby to be played in 2020," said Castle.

"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."

Castle said on Monday that she had taken a 50% pay-cut and other RA executives had taken 30%. RA's board directors have agreed to defer their fees.

RA is in talks with the national players' union about cutting their pay and is seeking financial assistance from the sport's global governing body World Rugby and the Australian government.

Australia's Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA) on Monday suggested they were prepared to take pay-cuts of up to 50%.

"We will work closely with RUPA to reach an agreement which is appropriate given this unprecedented situation," Castle said.

($1 = 1.6179 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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