Wallabies legend Tim Horan has suggested a radical overhaul of the Super Rugby and international windows while also urging Australian players to take a 75 percent pay cut over the next three months.
Rugby Australia yesterday announced it will stand down 75 percent of its staff for the next three months as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Remaining staff have been offered significant salary reductions or fewer hours as the organisation braces for a $120 million loss in revenue as the prospect of no Super Rugby and no domestic Wallabies tests looms large on the horizon.
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Horan, however, said that the players should take a significant wage drop of their own in order to help alleviate financial for Rugby Australia.
“My feeling is that the players, in the next quarter, would probably have to take upwards of 70-75 per cent pay cut in the next quarter in 2020,” Horan told Fox Sports News.
“Then it probably has to be revised, subject to what content can be played.
“The broadcasters require content to pay Rugby Australia.
“I think the players understand the crisis we’re in at the moment but they just need a little more time to understand where the game is going and what finances are in place to get the game through this.”
RA had hoped to play a revised version of Super Rugby this year featuring all four of its own clubs as well as the Western Force as the normal Super Rugby competition was brought to a halt after seven rounds of action.
However, those plans were scuppered by tight restrictions introduced by the Australian Government on travel and public gatherings.
With RA boss Raelene Castle open to a competition restructure in the wake of such restrictions, Horan suggested a streamlined version of Super Rugby featuring only New Zealand, Australia and Japan.
“I’d like to see Australia and New Zealand and also Japan be involved so you stay in your time zone.
“The way that that happens is that Japan virtually play their national team in a Super Rugby competition.
“Maybe the Western Force come back involved.
“It’s going to be up to the broadcasters and what content they’d like to see in the next five years.
“At the moment there’s a broadcast agreement in place and that’s without the Sunwolves in Japan.”
Horan recognised that COVID-19 was arguably the biggest challenge rugby has ever faced, with multiple unions around the globe suffering financially due to the outbreak.
Castle said she is having conversations with World Rugby and the Australian Government about financial assistance during the outbreak after RA announced it had lost $9.4 million for 2019 at its Annual General Meeting on Monday.
Elsewhere around the globe, players and staff from New Zealand Rugby are taking pay cuts while the nation’s second-tier provincial competition, the Heartland Championship, has been cancelled as the organisation prepares for a loss in excess of $100 million.
This is trying times, even for the most successful unions.https://t.co/2kMN3wfAvz
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 31, 2020
In the United Kingdom, England’s Rugby Football Union has projected a loss of $100 million over the next 18 months, Wales have cut wages by 25 percent and Ireland and Scotland have deferred wages by 50 and 25 percent respectively.
The hardest hit nation thus far has been USA Rugby, which filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy due to “insurmountable financial constraints” – though many of their financial issues not related to the coronavirus outbreak.
Horan remained optimistic, though, that the sport’s significant following worldwide would allow the game to get back on its feet in time.
“We’ll get through it, we’ve got through big issues previously in the game, over a long period of time,” he said.
“There were issues in 94-95, when the game turned professional and got through it.
“This is obviously the biggest challenge that not just sport, but everyone, globally is facing. We’ll get through it.
“The good thing we’ve got is it’s a global game, so we’ve got sources globally.
“World Rugby makes a lot of money through Rugby World Cup which then provides the game opportunities for the next four years.
“The Australian government, all the professional bodies have gone to see what is available.”
World Rugby forecast revenue from last year’s World Cup in Japan to surpass $700 million, although profit from that tournament is expected to be half that figure.
With home tests against Ireland and Fiji in July now likely out of the question and international travel to Europe for the November tests no certainty, Horan offered some replacement suggestions for the backend of the year.
“That might be a modified Super Rugby program, it might be a domestic competition which Raelene Castle announced a few weeks ago.
“Can you play that in July, August, maybe September and then October, November — if there’s not a lot of flow offshore, internationally, and we can’t fly to the UK — let’s have three, maybe five tests against the All Blacks and try and get our hands back on that Bledisloe Cup.
“Those test matches most likely won’t be played until October or November.”
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