World rugby is currently developing an action plan to prevent major unions from hitting the wall as the financial impact of the coronavirus begins to bite. The governing body examines the books of all level 1 countries, pledging to quickly help the most needy and prioritizing the testing schedule that generates the bulk of the sport’s revenue.
The Rugby Football Union said this week that it plans to lose up to £ 50 million in the next financial year, Australia will drop by £ 45 million if the closure continues for the rest of the year, New Zealand would face a £ 60 million shortfall in Wales. the losses will be much greater than expected and all unions have imposed or are considering wage cuts. They have all opened their books for inspection so that the extent of the recession can be assessed and talks with level two countries will follow.
A virtual meeting of the executive committee and the World Rugby professional games committee, which includes representatives from all major unions, was held on Monday. It was agreed that the executive should present an action plan as soon as possible. Last year’s World Cup profit is expected to be £ 165 million, which would empower the governing body to offer financial support, although no unions are in immediate danger to collapse.
The first task is to develop contingency plans for this year’s two test windows, in the south in July and in Europe in November. Wales to face Japan on June 27 and over the next three weekends, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina will host all six nations, while Italy has games against the United States and Canada and the Springboks have a game against Georgia in Port Elizabeth.
“We are taking a closer look at scenario planning for the July internationals,” said World Rugby President Bill Beaumont. “We will work in full partnership with key stakeholders to explore potential appropriate actions.
“It is only by working in partnership with our unions, professional leagues and international players that we can propose a solution that will reduce the impact of this extraordinary challenge.”
It is unlikely that before the end of next month that World Rugby will know how many, if any, tours will take place, as governments will decide whether visiting teams will be allowed in. Two emergency plans are being studied, the first of which the tours would be postponed to August.
The second would change the nature of the November internationals. According to the current calendar, the host unions take all the money generated by a test, unless it is a fourth international. If there are no matches in the south this summer but Europe has had a full program, this would normally mean a significant income imbalance, but World Rugby is looking for a way to share the revenue.
One option would be for teams from the southern hemisphere to organize a few games and the various unions, club organizations and player associations are willing to work together. The RFU and the French Rugby Federation only allow World Rugby to speak directly to their professional clubs on player welfare issues, but this has been lifted to ensure that the Premiership Rugby and the National Rugby League participate in the dialogue .
While rugby test will be the priority for recovery, the club matches that start again first will be those where no cross-border travel is involved, which gives French and English clubs a better chance of finishing their leagues than Pro14.
Last year, the Six Nations did not unanimously support World Rugby’s proposal to create a national league this would have been worth £ 6 billion over 12 years and provided isolation from the current crisis. Rather, European unions have turned to private equity firm CVC, with which they are still negotiating over a 15% stake for £ 300m, money that would now absorb losses rather than being used for investment.