Big guns happy to dip into Beaumont's piggy bank
REACTION: The big guns of the game look set to move swiftly to claim their portion of World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont’s relief fund.
World Rugby on Thursday announced details of a US$100-million relief package aimed at supporting the global game and mitigating the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the sport.
A statement from the global governing body said the strategy reflected its commitment to leading the sport through its “greatest challenge”.
The relief fund will be available for unions requiring immediate emergency funding.
For the Six Nations (England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, France and Italy) and SANZAAR (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina Rugby) unions, the financial package will potentially involve a combination of advances and loans.
World Rugby said it was also committed to supporting emerging nations and regional associations.
England was the first to react to the announcement.
“The RFU is projecting significant losses to revenue and we welcome all support from UK government and international federations to help sustain the game across England and the rest of the world,” it said in a statement.
The global outbreak of the coronavirus, which has led to the shutdown of most major sport worldwide, threatens to have a huge impact on Rugby Union as finances from international matches help subsidise all levels of the game.
Doubts also remain over whether lockdown restrictions will have eased sufficiently for fans to be allowed to attend the money-spinning November Tests in Europe.
“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,” World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said.
“The measures announced today [Thursday] will provide support and short-term relief in the form of a US$100-million (€92-million) relief fund, while we are committed to exploring calendar options that reflect and address a dynamic, complex and uncertain environment.”
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The All Blacks accepted a 50 percent pay freeze on Thursday as New Zealand’s players’ association said it was preparing for the nightmare scenario of no more professional rugby this year.
Rugby Australia alone is forecasting losses of AU$120 million (US$76 million) if their entire season, which includes Tests against Ireland and Fiji in July, is wiped out.
World Rugby initially flagged a revised Test program in their press release, saying that if the July fixtures in the Southern Hemisphere were postponed, which seems likely, they would be moved to October.