Another Australian Super Rugby franchise may suffer the same fate as the Western Force as Rugby Australia looks to survive the financial downfall that has come with the global coronavirus pandemic.

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RA chief executive Raelene Castle announced yesterday that she would take a 50 percent pay cut to her $815,000-per-year salary in a bid to help Australian rugby survive the next three months.

The governing body yesterday posted a $9.4 million loss for 2019, and Castle said further cost-cutting was needed in order to safeguard the professional game beyond 2021 due to lost revenue from suspended Super Rugby matches and uncertainty surrounding Wallabies tests this year.

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Castle couldn’t clarify in how costs would be slashed, but she refused to guarantee all four Super Rugby clubs – the Reds, Waratahs, Brumbies and Rebels – surviving beyond next year.

“We’re just not at that stage at the moment. Survival for the next three months is the most important piece, then we can sit down as a sport,” she said.

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“We proposed this morning that we have a think tank that will bring together all the key stakeholders across the game and start thinking about some of those scenarios about what options for the game could be considered.

“At the moment we’ve got contracts in place around delivering a Super Rugby structure, with four teams, and that’s the model that we’ll be working to. But it would be crazy for us not to be thinking about other scenarios that might roll out. Be that domestic, international or the SANZAAR product [Super Rugby].”

However, Castle reassured that the game in Australia will “always have grassroots rugby and we will always have the Wallabies and the Wallaroos and the like”.

She also confirmed RA had delayed announcing a staff restructure until it was across the federal government’s $130 billion “Job Keepers” wage subsidy package, which was announced later on Monday.

Castle’s salary slash, and the 30 percent wage drop of the 15-person executive team, was effective immediately, though, and would be in place for the next three months.

“I think all of these things will be discussed on a monthly basis but I think that’s a pretty good start point to set an example around how important I think this issue is,” she said.

“Like every possible line item across the business they will be analysed on a weekly basis.”

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