NSW Rugby announce job cuts in wake of COVID-19 challenges

Super Rugby - AU
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

More than a quarter of NSW Rugby staff have been let go in a restructure that NSW Rugby CEO Paul Doorn said was about the organisation's survival.

On Tuesday, NSW Rugby announced it would make 15 roles or 27 per cent of its workforce redundant, while the remainder of the business remains on significant pay cuts for the time being.

Of that 15, 12 are community rugby development officers and three are general managers in the commercial side of the business.

Other parts of the community arm have been retained including competition managers, coach education staff and referee-related roles in what Doorn described as a centralisation of the community area.

Doorn, who recently increased his own pay cut from 30 to 40 per cent said the decision was one about the organisation's immediate survival.

"In this particular period, in this COVID time, it would have been crazy to plough on and continue spending on the same things we were spending on, it would have been irresponsible," he said.

"We looked at the way in which we could save money, everything from redundancies and keeping people on stand down to reduced hours.

"Super Rugby AU kicks off this Friday. and we're limited to how much further we could scale down our coaches and support staff, who have already taken 60 per cent cuts.coaches, and our players are also already taking a hair cut.

"We have to make decisions on the opportunities available to use and in the community part of the business, this is what we need to do to continue to support the game this year.

"From our perspective, we had to decide what were nice to haves and the role of the development officer we'd love to keep and we'll hopefully be able to bring back in the future when we have the resources to support it but we can't afford to do that at the moment."

Doorn was adamant the news did not reflect a lack of value being placed on community rugby.

"What we’ve done here, the rationale has been to say we’ve had to make decision to let people go to continue to support the game," he said.

"It we didn’t do this, our survival as a entity significantly compromised. We’re not Robinson Crusoe in this space - other sports and other businesses are having to do the same thing.

"The pain is being felt across all parts of the business, it's not just the guys at the coal face, people in head office taking cuts to salaries and we're also having to let go three of our general managers.

"There's pain across all parts of the business."

No jobs were cut from the Waratahs program but all high performance staff are on at least 40 per cent salary cuts in the wake of cost cutting across the whole business.

Defence coach Phil Bailey had already been let go, employed as a contractor, replaced by Junior Wallabies coach Jason Gilmore for the Super Rugby AU competition.

A player pay deal has not yet been officially struck but players have been on an average 60 per cent pay cut since April 1 and look set to continue on 30-40 per cent cuts through to September 30.

NSW has not moved to replace any of its departing players, including 92-Test Kurtley Beale, with all teams on a contracting freeze.

The next step for Australian rugby is finalising a broadcast deal for 2021 and beyond, the shape of which is still unclear.

Doorn said talks were progressing around the prospect of a trans-Tasman competition in 2021.

"If you work backwards, there are talks with New Zealand around a trans-Tasman competition," Doorn said.

"From my perspective, the feedback I’m getting is that something everyone including players, the domestic competition is chance to showcase the local derbies particularly, with added spice with Force coming back in.

"I’m really excited about it and out members, supporters sponsors are supportive but it's just a matter of making it happen."

NSW Rugby is the first of the Super Rugby organisations to confirm its restructure plan, just shy of a month after Rugby Australia announced plans to cut 47 of its 142 full-time staff.

Seventy per cent of NSW staff have been on stand down since April 1 and while some will return on July 1, many will still remain on JobKeeper.

The Waratahs take on the Reds at Suncorp Stadium on Friday July 3, kicking off at 7:05pm AEST, LIVE on Foxtel, Foxtel Now and Kayo Sports. Buy a Kayo subscription here.