World unions will unite to help Australia, says RFU chief

By Sports Desk April 02, 2020

Rugby Football Union (RFU) chief executive Bill Sweeney said boards across the world want to help Rugby Australia (RA) after it reported financial problems amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With rugby union leagues and competitions being shut down in a bid to combat the spread of COVID-19, RA stood down 75 per cent of its working staff for three months earlier this week, shortly after it had revealed a provisional deficit of 9.4 million Australian dollars in 2019.

USA Rugby has also filed for bankruptcy, claiming the suspensions caused by coronavirus, and the uncertainty about the future, had accelerated financial problems.

Sweeney conceded those announcements have caused concern among the world's unions, who are trying to collaborate on potential solutions to aid those struggling.

"The USA, quite frankly, were struggling somewhat before the crisis hit anyway – so they were perhaps the most vulnerable of anybody," Sweeney explained.

"I know World Rugby are in conversations with them in terms of how they can sustain the game in that country.

"Australia have been reported as being in a weaker position than a lot of others.

"There is an unprecedented amount of dialogue going on between all the unions and the relationship between the north and the south [hemispheres] has probably never been better, and we are just looking at various ways we can structure things that everybody can benefit and find solutions to these challenges ahead.

"It's in no one's interest for Australia to get into even more serious difficulties."

Eddie Jones' England are due to tour Japan in July for a two-Test series against the Brave Blossoms.

However, given the Olympics - staged in Tokyo - has already been put back a year to July 2021, it would appear unlikely England will embark on that tour when scheduled.

"We are in regular dialogue with World Rugby and a lot of the other unions as well around the world," Sweeney added.

"This is a conversation we are having around the July tours. It's a bit too early to say. We expect to be able to make a decision on that towards the end of April."

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