Rugby finalising financial package to safeguard future

PUBLISHED: April 21, 2020

The rugby industry has agreed in principle a wide-ranging plan to cut between R700 million to R1 billion from its budget over the next eight months to ensure the post-COVID-19 viability of the sport through an Industry Financial Impact Plan (IFIP).

The Plan has been agreed in a united strategy formulated in discussions including representatives from all stakeholders: SA Rugby; provincial unions; players and rugby industry employees. The plan incorporates the Industry Salary Plan (ISP) which will see a united and collective approach towards salary reductions.

The economies will be achieved by reduced expenditure caused by the cancellation of competitions, cuts in other operational budgets and in salary reductions.

“Many businesses find themselves in a fight for survival and rugby is no different,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.

“We face an extremely threatening crisis and we had to take united and decisive action to address it head on.

“I’d like to commend the employees, players and the unions for the collaborative and realistic way they have approached this crisis. We are all in this together and we all quickly agreed that we have to equally contribute to the solution.”

Roux said that the salary reductions had been agreed in principle by the collective and were now being communicated to those effected before final approval through the various governance channels of SA Rugby, MyPlayers, Sports Employees Unite and the individual unions.

“Our income is tied to the playing of professional rugby and without matches we potentially don’t have any income,” said Roux. “We don’t know when we will be able to resume the season so have had to budget against a range of scenarios.

“This Industry Financial Impact Plan has been formulated against a worst-case scenario where we are not able to resume play for the rest of the year. It means we face a major belt-tightening exercise on a sport-wide and personal level; but without these measures we wouldn’t have much of a sport to return to.”

The Industry Financial Impact Plan is scheduled to run until the end of December in the first instance.

Rugby and COVID-19 timeline
• 11 March: COVID-19 Management Committee meets for the first time
• 12 March: Guinness PRO14 season is suspended indefinitely
• 13 March: World Rugby cancels the women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series tournament, that was due to be played in Stellenbosch on 28 and 29 March
• 13 March: SA Rugby cancels Junior Springbok home and away internationals in April and May
• 14 March: SANZAAR suspends Vodacom Super Rugby for the foreseeable future
• 16 March: SA Rugby suspends all national team training camps and business travel and orders cost savings; postpones kick off of SuperSport Rugby Challenge with a view to return to play on 25 April
• 16 March: SA Rugby announces actions and issues guidelines on safe practices to all rugby bodies
• 18 March: SA Rugby announces suspension of all rugby until the end of April and that discussions are underway to reschedule competitions to exclude international travel and be played behind closed doors.
• 20 March: World Rugby cancels the Junior World Championship scheduled for Italy in June
• 23 March: President Cyril Ramaphosa announces nationwide lockdown to start from midnight on 26 March
• 24 March: IOC postpones the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games to 2021
• 27 March: SA Rugby, MyPlayers (players’ organisation), the South African Rugby Employers’ Organisation (SAREO) and Sports Employees’ Unite (SEU) confirm establishment of a joint working group to manage the response to the crisis
• 3 April: The Rugby industry announces progress on an Industry Mitigation Strategy (IMS) to safeguard the games future. Plan to go through approval processes.
• 21 April: Industry Financial Impact Plan to make significant cuts in ‘global’ South African rugby budget confirmed.