Cash-strapped Rugby Australia is set to benefit from a World Rugby relief fund, while the Wallabies could face a compressed 13 Test-schedule through a proposed revision of the international calendar. World Rugby on Thursday announced a relief fund of $US100 million ($A158million, £80million) as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on sporting events and organisations.

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The fund, comprising advances and loans, will be available for Six Nations and SANZAAR unions requiring immediate emergency funding, subject to criteria being met. The package could be worth around $15m to RA, who have already made extensive cuts to their administration and may finalise an interim pay deal with the Rugby Union Players Association as soon as Friday.

RA, which is understood to be seeking a 65 per cent pay cut for players over a six-month period, could lose up to $120m in revenue if the professional game can’t resume in Australia this year because of Covid-19. “The measures will provide support and short-term relief, while we are making excellent progress towards calendar options that reflect and address a dynamic, complex and uncertain environment,” said World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont.

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World Rugby outlined a potential revised Test programme should the mid-year southern hemisphere internationals be postponed, which seems likely. Those July fixtures would move to October and the Rugby Championship and men’s November Tests would continue as scheduled.

The six-round Rugby Championship is scheduled to run from early August to late September. Australia have three home Tests on the slate for July, two against Ireland and one with Fiji, which under the World Rugby programme could be moved to October, although a third Bledisloe Cup Test is already scheduled for that month.

– AAP

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