Rugby Australia (RA) will need to make “significant cuts” to remain viable after revealing at Monday’s annual general meeting a $9.4 million operating deficit for the World Cup year of 2019.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has robbed RA of ongoing match day and broadcast revenue, causing further financial heartache after legal costs and the settlement of the Israel Folau saga.

Chairman Paul McLean admitted the code had been thrown into “unprecedented and extremely uncertain times” that required “extremely difficult decisions” to soften a blow he said the extent of which remained unknown.

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A statement provided on Monday forecast a requirement “to action significant cuts across the business for the sport to remain financially viable”.

“To put it simply, there is no way of knowing what damage this crisis will have on our game, or for how long it will continue to impact us,” McLean said.

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“It has forced us to make some extremely difficult decisions, and there will be even harder decisions to come as we continue to navigate the implications of the virus on the game’s finances.”

RA’s operating costs increased by $6.6 million in 2019, with the Folau legal case tipping the scales alongside extra community grants and player payments.

A dearth of domestic tests in a World Cup year and the shutdown of the current Super Rugby season also damaged RA’s bottom line.

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RA quoted a provisional $9.4 million loss in the absence of a fully audited financial account, which is not yet available due to complications stemming from the coronavirus.

The organisation argued that the settlement with Folau in November “enabled the game to move on from the issue and importantly has avoided a potentially long and protracted, and very expensive, court process.”

Supercars chairman Peter Wiggs, Virgin Blue co-founder Brett Godfrey and Wallabies great Daniel Herbert were confirmed as new RA board members at the meeting.

– AAP

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