Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend is to take a 25 percent pay deferral in response to the coronavirus outbreak, it was announced yesterday.
The same deferral, covering the period April 1 to September 1, will also apply to the coaches of Scotland’s two professional rugby union teams – Edinburgh boss Richard Cockerill and Glasgow counterpart Dave Rennie – as well as Scottish Rugby Union performance director Jim Mallinder.
Rennie, however, is set to leave in June to become the coach of Australia. SRU chief executive Mark Dodson, one of the highest paid administrators in the game, will have a salary deferral of 30 percent from April 1 to September 1.
There was an outcry when it was revealed that Dodson, already on a large annual salary of £455,000 ($563,543) had
received an additional £478,000 in bonuses, accrued over three years and paid in one lump sum in 2019, bringing his total earnings to £933,000 ($1.16 million).
And the fact he is taking a deferral as opposed to a cut while rugby is in a shutdown that started a fortnight ago may lead to fresh criticism. But pay cuts for players and staff could become an option depending on how long the outbreak stops rugby being played, with the SRU anticipating coronavirus-induced consequences “for some time to come”.
Scotland’s concluding Six Nations clash away to Wales was less than 24 hours before its scheduled March 14 date and may not now be played until October. And the SRU has also now admitted there are major doubts over whether the upcoming tour to South Africa and New Zealand will go ahead.
Yesterday’s announcement, which came after a SRU board conference call on Friday is designed to help keep Scottish rugby viable at a time when there are no matches because of the spread of Covid-19. It follows similar moves by national unions in England and Australia, although the Twickenham hierarchy of England’s Rugby Football Union, including coach Eddie Jones, will be taking a pay cut of more than 25 percent for up to three months, as opposed to a deferral.
The coronavirus is having an impact on rugby union across the world, with USA Rugby filing for bankruptcy protection after its financial problems were exacerbated by the outbreak.
Scottish Rugby Board chairman Colin Grassie said: “We are working extremely hard to navigate the sport of rugby in Scotland through these extremely challenging times.
“We have a huge challenge ahead of us, but we will get there together and we will leave no stone left unturned to ensure the long term sustainability of Scottish Rugby and the sport in Scotland.”
Rugby Australia lays off 75 percent of staff
Three-quarters of Rugby Australia’s staff were yesterday laid off until July 1 as the governing body predicted huge financial losses from the sport’s coronavirus-enforced shutdown. RA chief executive Raelene Castle described the cuts as “the toughest decision in the game’s history” but said they were necessary to help it survive.
“Although extremely painful, (they) 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,” she said. Castle, who will take a 50 percent cut to her US$500,000-plus salary, said the sport had been hit hard by the suspension of the Super Rugby season after just seven rounds.
Other executives and remaining staff have been offered salary reductions of up to 30 percent and reduced working hours. Castle said a worst-case scenario, in which the entire season was lost along with Wallabies Tests against Ireland and Fiji, would cost the governing body AUS$120 million ($74 million) in revenue. Rugby Australia, she added, were in discussions with the Australian government and World Rugby about potential financial support.
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