Rugby Australia has today made the toughest decision in the game’s history which will see 75% of its workforce stood down from April 1 through June 30, while remaining staff have been offered significant salary reductions or reduced hours as a result of the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) health crisis.
Following the suspension of the Vodafone Super Rugby season after just 7 rounds as a result of Government-imposed travel restrictions, Rugby Australia also suspended its plans (until at least May 1) to launch a five-team domestic competition given the advice of the Government’s health experts.
The game is projecting a worst-case scenario of up to $120m million loss in revenue should the Super Rugby season and the entire Wallabies domestic Test calendar be cancelled as a result of the virus.
Rugby Australia Chief Executive, Raelene Castle said: “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.
“We welcome the announcement from Prime Minister, Scott Morrison and Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg yesterday regarding the Job Keeper payment and we will work closely with all our staff to ensure they can access whatever government support is available over the coming months.
“Since the suspension of our proposed domestic Super Rugby competition, we have been working to understand both the immediate and long-term financial implications for the game as a result of the suspension of the competition, and potential further loss of revenue-generating content as we look ahead to the international season.
“Our extensive modelling shows that as a code, we could lose up to $120 million in revenue should it not be possible for any Rugby to be played in 2020. 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.
“The measures we will implement from April 1, although extremely painful, are necessary to ensure the sport remains financially viable and to ensure that we are able to come out the other side of this global crisis, fully-operational and ready to throw everything into the rebuild. It is our priority to keep all of our valued team connected and engaged through this period.
“We shared with the Rugby Union Players Association today the breadth of our cost-cutting including the standing down of 75% of our staff. We will work closely with RUPA to reach an agreement which is appropriate given this unprecedented situation.
“We remain in close dialogue with World Rugby and the Australian Government around potential support for our game and are working side-by-side with our Member Unions with their State and Territory Governments to unlock some additional potential support to ensure, first and foremost, that we can continue to run our community Rugby competitions after this Coronavirus issue has finally abated.
“Not only have our Super Rugby organisations made deep sacrifices, our smaller State and Territory-based Unions that are largely volunteer-run have also made significant contributions to ensure the game can go on.
“I want to pay tribute to each and every member of staff across our Rugby organisations and once again stress that once we get through this crisis, and we will, Rugby will be back stronger than ever. All staff on stand down will have continued access to Rugby Australia support services during this time.”
Rugby Australia Chief Executive, Raelene Castle has taken a 50% salary reduction and remaining Executive staff across the game at least a 30% salary reduction. All Rugby Australia Board Directors have agreed to defer their Director’s fees.