Rugby’s cash-crippled economy is being denied a multimillion-dollar lifeline from World Rugby - and the Wallabies’ greatest rivals are set to cash-in.
Rugby’s cash-crippled economy is being denied a multimillion-dollar lifeline from World Rugby - and the Wallabies’ greatest rivals are set to cash-in.

Ugly stalemate blocking $10-$20m rescue package

The drawnout pay cut talks with players are now delaying Rugby Australia's ability to be at the head of the queue for a multimillion-dollar rescue package from World Rugby.

The code's international governing body on Thursday night turned "World Bank" so that the 10 Tier One nations, and smaller unions, can apply for emergency low-interest loans.

RA could potentially access a $10-$20 million lifeline in grant advances and loans from the new COVID-19 relief fund of around $160 million to help Australia's cash-crippled rugby economy.

New Zealand get the jump on Australia. Picture: AAP/Peter Meecham
New Zealand get the jump on Australia. Picture: AAP/Peter Meecham

World Rugby has also stepped up with a cautious vision for international rugby's return with the Wallabies' Tests against Ireland (two) and Fiji shunted to October if they can't be played in July.

They would be followed by a November tour of Europe as planned.

Even bigger news is World Rugby stating that this "short-term reshaping" could be radical forerunner of a shake-up to the global calendar from next year.

"While initially a response to an unprecedented crisis, the modelling work achieved potentially provides direction for long-term reform of the rugby calendar," a World Rugby statement said on Thursday night.

 

Embattled Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty
Embattled Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty

It's the strongest indicator yet that a Nations Cup-style tournament pitting the world's top nations against each other in a late year window is a possible goer.

Subject to medical advice and border restrictions, The Rugby Championship will go ahead as scheduled, starting with the August 8 blockbuster between the Wallabies and All Blacks at Melbourne's Marvel Stadium.

How swiftly World Rugby has moved with the bailout is a godsend but loan applications come with a simple catch ... get your backyard in order first with an organised pay deal with players.

Michael Hooper will be hit hard by the cuts. Picture: Dan Mullan/Getty
Michael Hooper will be hit hard by the cuts. Picture: Dan Mullan/Getty

As of Thursday, the Kiwis can fill out the paperwork for a loan to help ride out the coronavirus crisis but Australian rugby cannot.

NZ Rugby Players Association chief executive Rob Nichol announced "we have agreed to immediately freeze approximately NZ$25 million, or 50 per cent, of the remaining forecasted player spend in 2020" which is from All Blacks ace Beauden Barrett down.

RA and the Rugby Union Players' Association, headed by former Wallaby Justin Harrison, must finally reach a deal after their tennis match of recent weeks.

Indications are it will come on Friday for Australia's 192 professional players but any twists to the 65 per cent cut request for six months from RA are yet to play out.

Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper, on an estimated $1.2 million a year, accepts he will take a far bigger hit than Super Rugby rookies on base $85,000 contracts because RUPA has always aimed to insulate lower-end players.

RUPA boss Justin Harrison. Picture: Adam Yip / Manly Daily
RUPA boss Justin Harrison. Picture: Adam Yip / Manly Daily

"Global sport is facing a crisis never seen before and at this most challenging time we are taking unprecedented action as a sport united to support global rugby, its unions, competitions and players through the enormous challenge presented by the COVID-19 pandemic," World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said.

"The measures announced will provide support and short-term relief in the form of a US$100 million relief fund while we are making excellent progress towards calendar options that reflect and address a dynamic, complex and uncertain environment."

Originally published as Ugly stalemate blocking $10-$20m rescue package


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