Rugby Australia stands down 75 percent of staff

Rugby Australia [RA] stands to lose $[Aus]120 million should there be a total wipeout of the Super Rugby season and Wallabies' domestic Test schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The governing body on Tuesday announced that it would be standing down 75 percent of its staff from April 1 to June 30 in a bid to plug some of the financial bleeding, the news coming after chief executive Raelene Castle had revealed she would be taking a 50 percent pay cut while other senior executives would see their wages reduced by 30 percent.

But it is the prospect of a $120 million black hole that will raise huge alarm bells across the code in Australia, a situation that remains a stark possibility given the international nature of Super Rugby and the game's key revenue streams.

"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," Castle said in confirming the extent of the Rugby Australia staffing reductions.

"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."

Castle had indicated on Monday that it might be possible to play Super Rugby and even the Rugby Championship later in the year, perhaps even during the window that is usually reserved for the November Test series in the northern hemisphere.

RA officials also met with Australia's Rugby Union Players Association on Tuesday, a process that will ultimately end in players also receiving pay cuts - believed to be in the vicinity of 30-50 percent of their contracted wage.

"We shared with the Rugby Union Players Association today the breadth of our cost-cutting including the standing down of 75% of our staff," Castle continued. "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."