Rugby Australia announces job cuts amid organisation restructure

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

One-third of Rugby Australia's staff will be made redundant in the coming months in the first stage of an organisational restructure announced on Monday.

In a statement on Monday afternoon, Rugby Australia announced that 47 of its 142 full-time staff would be departing over the coming months, with employees informed of their situations on Monday.

With more than three-quarters of the organisation currently stood down on JobKeeper, the redundancies will not come into immediate effect and the full number of employees will depart in the months to comes.

Senior staff who were retained on Monday have also been asked to take a 5 per cent pay cut when the changes come into effect.

Thirty other contractors and casual staff have also had their contracts terminated with immediate effect.

Currently, 75 per cent of the Rugby Australia staff have been stood down since April 1, while the remainder have had their salaries or hours cut during that period.

Rugby AU's executive team have had their salaries cut by 30 per cent during that time but have been working full-time.

Those cuts are along with Australia's professional players taking an average 60 per cent salary cut until the end of September.

Monday's announcement will cut the organisation's wage bill by $5.5 million, an amount that will help the organisation stay afloat as it works to get rugby games back on.

Rugby AU interim CEO Rob Clarke said in a statement the changes would ensure the survival of the organisation amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"Today was an incredibly difficult day for the organisation with many people affected by changes that are necessary to ensure the viability and sustainability of the organisation as a result of the devastating impacts of the pandemic," he said.

“We have delivered the news to staff this morning and told them that Rugby Australia values the contribution of each and every one of them, some of whom have given significant service to Rugby Australia and to the game over many years.

“This is a difficult time for a lot of very passionate, hard-working rugby people and we are committed to helping those people find their next opportunity, whether it be within the game or elsewhere.”

The second phase of the rugby restructure will involve the state and territory unions in a bid to cut further costs across all levels of the sport.

"Today we have announced phase one of the restructure of the rugby landscape, and the next phase will focus on the role of Rugby Australia and the member unions to find further opportunities for savings and efficiencies in the way we deliver our rugby programs and administrative operations across each of our businesses,” Clarke said.

“This second phase involves a significant piece of work that will be managed carefully over the coming months working closely with the leaders of each of the organisations looking at both the delivery of the professional game, and the community game across each state and territory."

Rugby Australia also announced on Monday that the Sunwolves' hopes of being part of the Super Rugby AU competition had been dashed, confirming a five-team only competition that is slated for a July 3 kick-off.

Finalising a broadcast deal for that competition is the next stage in getting a green light. 

Once that is negotiated, Clarke will turn his attention to a deal for 2021 and beyond, an agreement that will be vital for the organisation's long-term survival.

Rugby Australia will release its annual report later this week after submitting audited financial records on Sunday.

This article does not necessarily reflect the views of Rugby Australia or its member unions.