Rugby Australia stands down 75 per cent of staff in a desperate bid to stay afloat

Sydney, AUSTRALIA – April 2, 2020: 10am (SMH): Rugby Australia will stand down 75 per cent of its staff for a three-month period starting on Wednesday, with chief executive Raelene Castle describing the call as the “hardest news imaginable”.

It comes as Waratahs chief executive Paul Doorn confirmed to the Sydney Morning Herald about 70 per cent of his 70 staff members would also be stood down.

Following a call to staff, RA released a statement on Tuesday afternoon which read: “Rugby Australia has today made the toughest decision in the game’s history which will see 75 per cent of its workforce stood down from 01 April  through 30 June , while remaining staff have been offered significant salary reductions or reduced hours as a result of the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) health crisis.

“The game is projecting a worst-case scenario of up to a $120 million(US$72 million) loss in revenue should the Super Rugby season and the entire Wallabies domestic test calendar be cancelled as a result of the virus.”

Castle added: “Today we have had to deliver the hardest news imaginable to our incredible, hard-working and passionate staff, that many of them will be stood down for a three-month period so that the game can survive this unprecedented crisis.

“We welcome the announcement from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg yesterday regarding the job-keeper payment and we will work closely with all our staff to ensure they can access whatever government support is available over the coming months.

“Since the suspension of our proposed domestic Super Rugby competition, we have been working to understand both the immediate and long-term financial implications for the game as a result of the suspension of the competition, and potential further loss of revenue-generating content as we look ahead to the international season.

“Our extensive modelling shows that as a code, we could lose up to $120 million in revenue should it not be possible for any rugby to be played in 2020. Of course, that is the worst-case scenario, and we are very hopeful that we can recommence the Super Rugby season and domestic Wallabies Test matches at some point this year.

“The measures we will implement from April 1, although extremely painful, are necessary to ensure the sport remains financially viable and to ensure that we are able to come out the other side of this global crisis, fully operational and ready to throw everything into the rebuild. It is our priority to keep all of our valued team connected and engaged through this period.”

All four Australian Super Rugby clubs will be affected by the news, with close to 50 Waratahs staff told they won’t have a job for the next three months.

“It’s difficult,” Doorn said. “We’ve been put onto a stand-down and managing the business on a skeleton staff just to keep things ticking over so we are well and truly prepared for when the time does come to recommence both community and professional sport.

“We won’t be able to afford to keep all our coaching staff, so we’ll make that tough call once that decision has come through about what the requirements of the players will be.”

The issue of player payments is yet to be finalised, with RA currently in talks with the Rugby Union Players Association.

The issue of player payments is yet to be finalised. RA spent Tuesday in talks with the Rugby Union Players Association and discussions are expected to drag on over the coming days.

“We shared with the Rugby Union Players Association today the breadth of our cost-cutting, including the standing down of 75 per cent of our staff,” Castle said. “We will work closely with RUPA to reach an agreement which is appropriate given this unprecedented situation.”

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