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Ireland’s Summer Tour in Doubt

Ireland’s summer tour of Australia looks set to be in major doubt following the outbreak of the coronavirus, with other countries fearing the worst

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(Photo by Ashley Western/MB Media/Getty Images)

Ireland’s summer tour of Australia looks set to be in doubt following the outbreak of the coronavirus according to reports.

The boys in green are set to take on the Wallabies in a two-test series Down Under, with the matches currently scheduled for July 4th and 11th in Brisbane and Sydney respectively. 

At the moment Australia has imposed a travel ban that has an indefinite time-scale and further measures are expected to be put in place in order to try and slow the spread of the virus. 

Both countries have teams in domestic competitions that have been suspended until further notice, with Ireland’s provinces involved in the PRO14 and Champions Cup, while Australia have representatives in Super Rugby

It is believed that the preference of all involved would be to conclude the current club campaigns, even if that meant playing into the summer months and therefore miss out on the international fixtures. 

There are reports in France claiming that all summer tours will be cancelled in order to finish the European Champions Cup campaign during July, while the Welsh Rugby Union expect that the current set-back will last months rather than weeks. 

If there were to be no international fixtures it could have a bearing on the overall world rankings, with the draw for the next Rugby World Cup supposed to take place this November, but that may now be pushed back too. 

Only time will tell what lies ahead as nobody truly knows when things will return to normality, but it is looking increasingly likely that the club season will come ahead of the international fixtures this summer.

International

Rugby Australia Make Significant Cuts

Following the coronavirus pandemic rugby has been hit hard with no way of playing games and now Rugby Australia have been forced into making cuts in order to retain staff in the long-run

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Rugby Australia have confirmed that they will be standing down 75% of their staff in a bid to combat the growing struggles that the coronavirus pandemic is causing.

The workers will be released from tomorrow until the 30th of June due to the lack of finances available to Rugby Australia with the Super Rugby season currently on hold and a strong possibility of the Wallabies summer tests being called off. 

In the worst case possible the organisation are predicting a loss of $120 million due to the virus and speaking on the latest developments the organisation’s chief executive Raelane Castle admitted this was the toughest decision she and her colleagues had ever had to make. 

“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. 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,” she said. 

Castle’s has already taken a 50% pay cut since the crisis began and the rest of Rugby Australia’s executives will have a 30% reduction in pay. 

It is a tough call to make in order to preserve rugby in Australia and the fear is that things may get worse with a fear that not all four of the country’s Super Rugby franchises will make it through to next season due to the financial losses.

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Jones Set for Pay Cut

England head coach Eddie Jones is set to be asked to take a pay cut during the current coronavirus outbreak according to reports

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England head coach Eddie Jones will be asked to take a 25% pay cut due to the coronavirus outbreak according to the PA news agency.

The Rugby Football Union have already cut the wages of their executive team by the same amount and the organisation are expecting revenue losses of up to £50 million over the next 18 months due to the virus. 

Jones has the highest salary of all international coaches with a yearly wage of around £750,000 and it is believed that talks are to be held with him and his coaching staff in the coming days to reduce that. 

The former Japan head coach is currently heading into the final year of his contract which runs out come July 2021 and it remains to be seen whether he will be asked to lead England into the 2023 French Rugby World Cup

Meanwhile, a number of Jones’ English stars have already taken pay cuts at their respective clubs following the outbreak. However, some reports claim that players will be taking legal action against their clubs over these cuts. 

With the timeline of recovery from the overall virus unknown rugby is heading into the future with no return date and as such it is unclear how long or far these reductions will have to go to keep organisations afloat.

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World Rugby Cancels Several Tournaments

World Rugby have announced the cancelation of a number of tournaments due to the coronavirus outbreak

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World Rugby have confirmed that several tournaments have been pushed back or cancelled due to the outbreak of coronavirus across the world.

Among the changes are Sevens tournaments, U20 World Cup campaigns and qualifying events for certain competitions. 

The worldwide rugby body released a statement earlier today outlining their plans for the foreseeable future. 

“After detailed and constructive dialogue with the respective host and participating unions, and with the wellbeing of the global rugby family at heart, the following events have been postponed:

  • The men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments in London and Paris will be postponed, provisionally until September;
  • The women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament in Langford has been postponed until later in the year;
  • The final men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series event has been postponed until later in the year;
  • Some Rugby World Cup 2021 and 2023 regional qualifying events have been postponed;

In addition, the following event has been cancelled: The World Rugby U20 Championship 2020, scheduled to be hosted in northern Italy in late June and July, has been cancelled following detailed consultation with the Federazione Italiana Rugby. The Olympic Games Repechage qualification tournament scheduled for June is under review and World Rugby continues to be in close consultation with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) regarding the implications for the qualification process in the event that the repechage is unable to be hosted due to the covid-19 outbreak. The World Rugby Hall of Fame, located in Rugby, will be closed until the end of May in line with public health authority directives,” the statement read. 

The pandemic is causing havoc among the rugby community with both the Irish and English Rugby Football Unions calling a close on their domestic competitions for this season bar the PRO14 and English Premiership, which remain under review. 

Elsewhere, the Six Nations was unable to be concluded in its normal time frame due to the postponement of fixtures, with further disruption expected among the international game. 

In other league news the French Top 14 has been suspended and Super Rugby has done the same, however, the Australian sides are set to play against one another over the coming weeks.  

The dates resumption of the current campaigns remain unknown with the pandemic stopping everything in and out of sport.

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