World Rugby announces $150 million relief fund

Thu, 16/04/2020, 10:43 pm
Beth Newman
by Beth Newman
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont. Photo: Getty Images

World Rugby is set to make more than $A150 million available to help national unions stay financially afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The global body officially announced a relief fund, to the tune of $USD100 million, on Thursday night in a bid to help the sport make it through a period without matches.

In a statement, World Rugby said these loans would apply through to the resumption of the sport.

For Six Nations and SANZAAR nations, the statement said that relief would be a mix of "advances and loans".

Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle has previously said that the organisation had reached out to World Rugby for information about their relief process as they prepare for a worst-case scenario of $120 million in lost revenue this year.

Exactly how big a loan Australia would be granted is yet to be seen but amounts of around $16 million have been reported in recent days.

it has been reported that Rugby Australia would not be able to access any loan until their player pay deal is finalised.

That is expected to be finalised today after nearly two weeks of formal negotiations between Rugby AU and RUPA.

Australia is one of the last major unions yet to agree to a deal with its players, after New Zealand Rugby formalised their agreement on Thursday.

It is expected that the agreement will be similar to many unveiled around the world, with the biggest percentage cuts taken by the game's highest earners.

On the field, World Rugby's statement also said a number of international models were being assessed for the back half of the year.

While World Rugby did not specifically comment on the status of the July Tests, the statement said a "short-term reshaping" of the international calendar would be required to allow domestic and local leagues to have the opportunity to be completed.

SANZAAR's Rugby Championship is scheduled to kick off on August 8 when Australia take on New Zealand at Marvel Stadium, Mlebourne, but there has been indications that this tournament could be pushed back.

The Wallabies are scheduled to face New Zealand in the Bledisloe Cup opener on August 8. Photo: Getty ImagesPlans around calendars in an environment where there is no cross-hemisphere travel, something that would preclude the end of year SpringTours, or even where there is no international rugby possible are also being considered.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said the COVID-19 pandemic was a "crisis never seen before" in sport.

"Global sport is facing a crisis never seen before and at this most challenging time we are taking unprecedented action as a sport united to support global rugby, its unions, competitions and players through the enormous challenge presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The measures announced today will provide support and short-term relief in the form of a US$100 million relief fund, while we are committed to exploring calendar options that reflect and address a dynamic, complex and uncertain environment.

“I have chaired many productive meetings in recent weeks with my union, region, competition and player colleagues and we are rapidly moving towards a viable calendar solution and, while compromises are being made, the outcome will be in the best interests of the whole game.

“This is a process with solidarity, unity and leadership at heart – one that sets a potential blueprint for successful collaboration in the future and I would like to thank everyone for their openness, cooperation and global view.”

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