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RFU target sevens in cutbacks

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Are England Sevens facing the chop?

The Rugby Football Union is considering whether to disband its England Sevens programme as part of cost cutting measures.

Twickenham must make savings of £20million in the areas of the professional and community games and overheads across the next four years. Of that sum, cuts of at least £5million need to be made for the 2019-20 financial year.

Under examination is the possibility of disbanding the England sevens team in favour of a dedicated Team GB outfit, which could be entered into World Series events instead.

“The sevens programme is one option we are looking at in the professional game and moving to a Team GB model makes sense given that sevens is an Olympic sport,” an RFU spokeswoman said.

“We have been very clear for some time that we need to cut costs in 2019-2020 as our revenues have not risen in line with our original forecasts.

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“We have kept the game informed – and this is also outlined in our annual report. We are currently consulting with the game on how best to adjust costs.

“There are a broad range of options under discussion across the professional game, the community game, and our general overheads.

“Any budget cuts in 2019/2020 come after years of record investment in the professional and community game.”

Team GB was effectively bankrolled by the RFU for the 2020 Olympics with no central funding received.

RFU accounts revealed at the end of November a £30.9million loss and 54 redundancies. It also reported that former chief executive Ian Ritchie was paid £238,000 in his final two months in the role.

The RFU last month appointed Bill Sweeney as its new chief executive. He joins from the British Olympic Association where he held the same role and replaces Steve Brown, who resigned in November 2018 after 14 months in the job as Ritchie’s successor.

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Are England Sevens facing the chop?