Former All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen is calling for the rugby world to put self-interest aside in pursuit of global unity and a new approach to revive the game as it stares down the barrel of uncertainty amid the COIVD-19 pandemic.
Speaking in a wide-ranging interview with WalesOnline, the 60-year-old World Cup-winning coach said the perilous financial state of nations around the globe can’t be attributed solely to the coronavirus outbreak.
Rugby Australia is among one of many unions facing economic downfall, with the organisation forecasting losses of around A$120 million if no more games are played this year.
Elsewhere, England’s Rugby Football Union is projecting a loss of £50 million, while New Zealand Rugby is bracing for a $25 million hit.
World Rugby last week announced a relief fund of US$100 million to assist unions grappling with the financial ramifications of coronavirus, but for some – like USA Rugby, which has already filed for bankruptcy – that has come too late.
However, Hansen believes that the virus has presented an opportunity for the game to come together and lay out a new blueprint for the coming years.
“We have an opportunity now to start with a blank page because you have got everybody putting self-interest to the side. They know they could be gone if they don’t do the right thing,” Hansen told WalesOnline.
“So it’s a great opportunity to bring everybody together — north, south, individual countries — and do what it is right for the game. It’s been a long time coming.
“There has been a lot of self-interest and if we don’t do the right thing, we could lose the game and that would be a tragedy. We have lost our way in rugby a little bit and we haven’t been working well enough together.”
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont has said they were in discussions with Six Nations, SANZAAR and the International Rugby Players union to develop a plan to return to action once governments and health authorities allow them to do so.
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