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Highlights on Off The Ball
Phil Egan
Phil Egan

12:27 1 Apr 2020


New Zealand Rugby has reduced its own staff salaries and offered to bail out its Super Rugby franchises with a $1.25 million rescue package due to the financial implications of the coronavirus.

In a statement, NZR Chief executive Mark Robinson said the emergency funding would be available to each of the five franchises for the next three months.

"An emergency NZR grant of $250,000 each is to be made available to all Super Rugby clubs for the next three months which is seen as a critical supplement to other financing options or levers being considered by the club.

"We still think there's a lot of value in Super Rugby, based on the call we had the other day there's a lot of excitement and optimism about what it can be in the future, it's just an incredibly difficult time we're working through at the moment."

Robinson confirmed all NZR staff, including its board and All Blacks management, are taking 40 per cent pay and he warned of up $100m (€55m) in lost revenue if no top level rugby is played this year.

NZR is still negotiating with players' representatives over pay cuts for All Blacks and Super Rugby players but Robinson said those talks were "progressing quite well".

He said the $250,000 rescue package would help all five of its Super Rugby franchises remain viable at a "challenging time" for the game.

He added: "In addition, just like NZR, Super Rugby clubs have also made necessary changes because of the Covid-19 crisis, including budget cuts and staffing changes.

"The emergency grant is necessary so that Super Rugby clubs can survive and be ready to grow their revenue once we are through the pandemic."

There is also a working group made up of competition representatives, the players association and key stakeholders trying to map out a plan for what the rest of the year might look if and when rugby can resume.

The Super Rugby season has been suspended and July internationals are almost certain to be cancelled.

The All Blacks are also due to take part in the Rugby Championship in August and are scheduled to travel to Europe in November to play England, Wales and Scotland.

Robinson said there were a number of possibilities due to the uncertainty surrounding the spread of the virus.

"We might play into November or December domestically depending on what happens with the borders. All of those are possibilities at the moment that we are working through.

"What we're focussed on when get these groups together is creating the best experience for fans, creating as much value as we can and creating great experiences for the players.

"We're not set in stone with anything around that, and that's primarily because we simply don't know when we're going to be playing again.

"If someone could give us an exact date then we could shed some more light on that but at the moment it's extremely difficult."

On Tuesday, Rugby Australia put 75% of its staff on unpaid leave, in what chief executive Raelene Castle called "the toughest decision in the game's history".

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