File photo: REUTERS/STEFAN WERMUTH
File photo: REUTERS/STEFAN WERMUTH

London — World Rugby on Thursday announced details of a coronavirus relief strategy aimed at helping rugby through the pandemic underpinned by a relief fund worth about $100m.

A statement from the global governing body said the strategy reflected its commitment to leading the sport through its “greatest challenge”.

The relief fund will be available for unions requiring immediate emergency funding. It is designed to help the maximum number of unions for the maximum amount of time while there is no rugby.

For Six Nations and Sanzaar (SA, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina Rugby) unions, the financial package will potentially involve a combination of advances and loans.

World Rugby said it was also committed to supporting emerging nations and regional associations. Rugby chiefs are considering a variety of plans for how rugby can resume, including likely short-term reshaping of the international rugby calendar.

World Rugby chair Bill Beaumont said: “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.

“The measures announced today will provide support and short-term relief in the form of a $100m relief fund, while we are committed to exploring calendar options that reflect and address a dynamic, complex and uncertain environment.”

World Rugby’s fund will be welcomed as unions round the world have been taking financial measures to adapt to the impact the virus is having on the sport.

New Zealand, where the sport is king, became the latest to do so on Thursday. The All Blacks accepted a 50% pay freeze as New Zealand’s players’ association said it was preparing for the scenario of no more professional rugby in 2020.

New Zealand Rugby and the players’ association agreed to put on hold $15m, or 50% of the year’s remaining forecast player spend. The cutbacks will apply to Super Rugby players, including All Blacks, the women’s Black Ferns and the sevens programmes, and are designed to protect players on retainers of less than $30,000.

AFP

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