Local rugby industry preparing to cut up to R1-billion from its budget over the next eight months

SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux (L) and president Mark Alexander (R) have tough decision to make to keep the local game viable.
SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux (L) and president Mark Alexander (R) have tough decision to make to keep the local game viable.

The local rugby industry is preparing to cut up to R1-billion from its budget over the next eight months to ensure post Covid-19 viability.

SA Rugby announced on Tuesday through its Industry Financial Impact Plan (IFIP) that the industry is hoping to cut between R700 million and R1 billion.

The game has ground to a halt due to the global spread of the coronavirus pandemic and the plan has been devised and agreed following discussions involving SA Rugby‚ provincial unions as well as players and rugby industry employees.

The plan incorporates the Industry Salary Plan (ISP) which will see a collective approach towards salary reductions.

SA Rugby believes the savings will be achieved through 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‚ SA Rugby’s chief executive.

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

"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 affected 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 IFIP 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 IFIP is scheduled to run until the end of December in the first instance.

SA Rugby announced the plan after cancelling a number of events and initiating contingency plans for others in the wake of the pandemic.

“Unfortunately‚ we had to make some very tough calls in terms of our local competitions‚ but we have the buy-in and support from the local franchises and unions‚ Sareo‚ MyPlayers and our broadcaster‚ SuperSport‚ in this regard‚” said Roux.

“In terms of other teams’ participation in certain competitions‚ and the hosting of other tournaments‚ we are currently on a return to train and play readiness plan‚ but this is dependent on Government advice and decisions as the pandemic evolves.”

The tournaments which are still part of the planning for 2020 are local franchise and union competition planned for June to August as alternative to Super Rugby and Guinness Pro14 are Currie Cup Premier and First Divisions‚ provincial u21 competition‚ SuperSport Rugby Challenge‚ Women’s Inter-Provincial competition‚ International matches involving the Springboks Men’s and Women’s teams and the World Rugby Sevens Series.

The tournaments and competitions have been cancelled for 2020 are SA Rugby Youth Weeks‚ Provincial u13 and u17 Sevens‚ SA Schools u18 competition‚ Provincial u19 Week‚ Provincial u20 competition and the Provincial Sevens Competition.

All club and community rugby is still postponed until further notice and SA Rugby reiterated its plea to all clubs‚ teams‚ players and coaches to adhere to the lockdown rules.

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