World Rugby braces for virus impact

By Thomas Airey 04 April 2020, 9:00AM

World Rugby are looking at solutions for the international rugby calendar in a COVID-19 impacted world, including holding November tour fixtures in the Southern Hemisphere.

Traditionally teams from Oceania, Africa and Argentina head to Europe towards the end of the year where they are hosted by the Six Nations countries as well as the likes of Georgia and Spain.

However with the prospect of corresponding tours of the islands, Australia and New Zealand in July being scrapped, the Southern Hemisphere nations are pushing for a revenue-sharing arrangement or tests being hosted by them in November as well.

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont told Chris Foy of the Daily Mail that the global body's authority has been clarifying whether the Southern Hemisphere test matches in July can go ahead.

"We are awaiting what governments will say about July, but there will be no decision for at least a month," he said.

Beaumont confirmed that test matches in the Southern Hemisphere in November and a revenue-sharing arrangement are both being looked at, with World Rugby determined to facilitate solutions that benefit not just some, but all unions.

"We are well aware of the financial situation down south, he said."

"The southern unions are looking at the July Tests and the northern unions are looking at the November Tests, but we are all in it together. There is no one who is going to make a lot of money during this time. Everyone is going to suffer.

"I am very confident the unions will work together through this. Northern unions will feel the impact, too. If none of the northern teams could stage November Tests, then the situation would become extremely serious, but there is a spirit globally that we are all in this together."

Rugby Australia have said they are forecasting a loss of over 200 million tala in revenue if professional rugby doesn't return in 2020, while New Zealand Rugby anticipate losing 165 million.

"We don't know what the solutions will be until this all pans out a bit more," Beaumont said. 

"I cannot say that, right now, we have a solution for this. Unions will want to resume matches, but clubs will want to resume their seasons, too."

USA Rugby's board decided the union will file for bankruptcy this week.

World Rugby are asking every union to present best and worst-case scenarios to the global body, so that they can give out loans to help them remain solvent until rugby can be played again.

The Daily Mail understands World Rugby will borrow money against their own cash reserves of between 500 and 700 million tala to do so.

"We have been very prudent over the years, so we have funds, but we don't have enough funds to bail everyone out," Beaumont told Foy.

"The World Cup in Japan made a profit which was very similar to what it was in 2015. It was a great success commercially. If this happened now and there hadn't been a World Cup last year, we would all be staring down the barrel.

"So we are lucky in that respect, but there is only so much in the pot. We are not like the I.O.C. (International Olympic Committee), who are sitting on enormous reserves."

The World Rugby boss called on governments around the world to help out their country's rugby unions as well.

"I'd like to think that any union in a real plight could approach their government for help, because they are the national brand of their sport," he said. 


Rugby union
By Thomas Airey 04 April 2020, 9:00AM

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