The Highlanders have become the first New Zealand Super Rugby franchise to reduce its staff’s pay in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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Earlier this week, New Zealand Rugby injected $1.25 million into its five Super Rugby clubs as the competition remains at a standstill after being suspended following seven rounds of action.

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Although the extra $250,000 has been welcomed by the Highlanders, it hasn’t been enough to stop the Dunedin franchise from cutting it costs as it battles to stay afloat with no gate revenue to rely upon.

“Our business, with no product or no content, means no dollars and our reserves have been burnt up pretty quickly,” Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark told Newshub.

“It’s probably more than $500,000 a month to run a Super Rugby club, so we’ve already taken across-the-board 30 percent cuts and we’ve frozen all expenditure.”

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The Highlanders’ 30 percent drop in wages follows New Zealand Rugby’s decision to slash its staff’s salaries by 20 percent over the next three months.

The Crusaders are currently consulting with their staff, and the Hurricanes are said to be contemplating their options, while the Chiefs didn’t provide any comment to Newshub.

Blues chief executive Andrew Hore said that the boost in cash has afforded the Auckland side some breathing space as they decide what their next move will be, but time is a commodity that the Highlanders are seemingly thin on.

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Without the revenue of ticket sales, sponsors have become essential contributors to the Highlanders’ coffers, but some of those companies are enduring similar problems to the Forsyth Barr Stadium-based side.

“None of them have cancelled on us,” said Clark told Newshub.

“Some have deferred already, because some of their businesses, like ours, are not getting any money in, so they can’t afford to pay at this stage.”

While the picture looks dire for the Highlanders and their staff, Clark has vowed to keep the 2015 Super Rugby champions alive beyond this year regardless of whether or not any form of rugby is played.

“We will survive,” said Clark. “We just don’t know in what shape that will be.

“We’re just trying to make sure it’s the best shape we can possibly be in.”

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