Vice-chairman Augustin Pichot says World Rugby won’t bail out SANZAAR nations that hit the financial skids, making it critical they extract themselves quickly from the coronavirus pandemic.
Pichot said the four leading southern hemisphere countries must work together to emerge from the crisis, citing a chilling scenario of Rugby Australia collapsing financially and sparking an international domino impact.
No rugby at all in 2020 for the Wallabies, All Blacks, Springboks and Pumas would create a combined financial deficit of about $A790 million, Pichot estimated, something World Rugby couldn’t hope to cover.
It made the battle to quell COVID-19 in timely fashion critical for the sport in the southern hemisphere whose unions, he said, must remain unified.
“There’s no individual way. The first issue we need to address is coronavirus and mitigate it.
“It’s not about World Rugby giving handouts, because there’s no handout possible. World Rugby does not have the 400 million pounds.”
Pichot said the sport’s enforced break should prompt SANZAAR to assess the ongoing profitability and viability of its competitions, even in the short term.
He suggested Super Rugby’s entire blueprint could be addressed, even wondering if the Buenos Aires-based Jaguares can afford to remain if international travel becomes prohibitive.
“Maybe you find out that that competition cannot be played because it is not profitable or is too much of a burden,” Pichot said.
“Even in Argentina, can we really afford to carry on Super Rugby with the Jaguares having to pay for the trips all round the world?
“Maybe we have to fold Jaguares and look for other alternatives.”
New Zealand's top rugby players could find out how much of their pay will be slashed as early as this week.https://t.co/oVUdWUNXXS
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 15, 2020
Pichot has announced he will challenge England’s Bill Beaumont for the World Rugby chairmanship and is likely to garner support from the southern hemisphere nations.
Beaumont has promised a major review of World Rugby to transform it into a voice for all nations, not just the traditional powers of the sport, and wants to revisit a global season competition structure that failed to take off last year.
Pichot, the underdog when votes are tallied on April 26, has staked his bid on a modern, more inclusive game that incorporates private investment and gives emerging nations a greater say.
“In the last year or year and half, I’ve been challenging the system from the inside, but I couldn’t get traction,” Pichot said.
“I thought the establishment was pushing me out a little bit, to be honest.”
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