New Australia coach Dave Rennie has volunteered to take a 30 per cent pay cut ahead of starting his job with the Wallabies next month.

Rugby Australia (RA) reported a provisional deficit of 9.4 million Australian dollars for 2019 back in March, and the impact of the coronavirus has further impacted their finances.

All July internationals have already been scrapped because of the ongoing pandemic and both Australia players and RA staff members have had to take significant pay cuts while the sport is on hold.

Rennie has now followed suit with a pay cut that will last until the end of September, in line with the rest of RA's executive team.

The 56-year-old's appointment as Australia's new coach was confirmed back in November 2019 shortly after the Rugby World Cup concluded.

It is hoped he could be in charge for the first time in October, when international fixtures are set to return.

Rugby Football Union (RFU) chief executive Bill Sweeney is hopeful England will not have to play autumn internationals behind closed doors at Twickenham.

England are due to host New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and Australia in November but there are doubts over whether fans will be allowed in due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sweeney stressed the importance of supporters being able to attend for financial reasons and, with lockdown measures being gradually eased, he is optimistic Eddie Jones' side will not have to run out in an empty stadium.

"Playing behind closed doors - for us - is not much different to the games being cancelled," he told BBC Sport.

"By the time you fire up the stadium, pay for the players and the costs associated with preparation time and camps, when you play behind closed doors for us, there is not a huge difference between that and the games not taking place.

"Having attendance and having fans turning up is key."

Sweeney added: "If things progress as they seem to be progressing now, hopefully we will see crowds at Twickenham in October and November."

RFU boss Sweeney says alternative options are being explored if southern hemisphere teams are unable to head north.

"The preference from both the north and the south is that the original programme will go ahead," he said.

"But there are two or three different options that feature more northern hemisphere competition around that autumn window.

"One of them is you'd play a Six Nations tournament in that autumn that would combine with fixtures next year and for the first time ever you'd have home and away.

"Every [plan] has pros and cons to it and those are being evaluated."

Rugby Australia (RA) is to cut a third of its full-time staff in the coming months as the organisation attempts to stay afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic.

RA has been hit hard by the suspension of rugby, with the organisation having previously had to stand three-quarters of their workforce down, while players have taken pay cuts.

Last month RA claimed a World Rugby bailout would provide "certainty for the next 12 months", but on Monday it announced it would be making 47 of its 142 full-time staff redundant.

The redundancies will not come into immediate effect but will take place over the months to come, while senior staff who have been retained have been asked to take a five per cent pay cut.

With all international tours scheduled for July having been cancelled, it is unclear if the Rugby Championship will be able to take place later in the year.

It is expected that the redundancies and pay cuts will reduce RA's wage bill by $5.5million.

"Today was an incredibly difficult day for the organisation with many people affected by changes that are necessary to ensure the viability and sustainability of the organisation as a result of the devastating impacts of the pandemic," interim chief executive Rob Clarke said in a statement.

"We have delivered the news to staff this morning and told them that Rugby Australia values the contribution of each and every one of them, some of whom have given significant service to Rugby Australia and to the game over many years.

"This is a difficult time for a lot of very passionate, hard-working rugby people and we are committed to helping those people find their next opportunity, whether it be within the game or elsewhere."

Rugby Australia (RA) is to cut a third of its full-time staff in the coming months as the organisation attempts to stay afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic.

RA has been hit hard by the suspension of rugby, with the organisation having previously had to stand three-quarters of their workforce down, while players have taken pay cuts.

Last month RA claimed a World Rugby bailout would provide "certainty for the next 12 months", but on Monday it announced it would be making 47 of its 142 full-time staff redundant.

The redundancies will not come into immediate effect but will take place over the months to come, while senior staff who have been retained have been asked to take a five per cent pay cut.

With all international tours scheduled for July having been cancelled, it is unclear if the Rugby Championship will be able to take place later in the year.

It is expected that the redundancies and pay cuts will reduce RA's wage bill by $5.5million.

"Today was an incredibly difficult day for the organisation with many people affected by changes that are necessary to ensure the viability and sustainability of the organisation as a result of the devastating impacts of the pandemic," interim chief executive Rob Clarke said in a statement.

"We have delivered the news to staff this morning and told them that Rugby Australia values the contribution of each and every one of them, some of whom have given significant service to Rugby Australia and to the game over many years.

"This is a difficult time for a lot of very passionate, hard-working rugby people and we are committed to helping those people find their next opportunity, whether it be within the game or elsewhere."

Saracens have signed Wales scrum-half Aled Davies on a three-year deal.

Davies' international career appears to be over after he opted to leave the Ospreys to join the European and Premiership champions.

The 27-year-old playmaker will not be able play for his country due to the 60-cap eligibility rule and is instead heading for the Championship after Sarries were consigned to relegation due to salary-cap breaches.

Davies said: "It's a great opportunity for me at a massive club. It's a massive honour to come here and I can't wait to get started.

"It seems like there is a good team and family ethos around the club which is very attractive for me and my family.

"I'm looking forward to putting my stamp on things and making an impact, hopefully."

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said: "Aled is an experienced, talented player and we are delighted to welcome both him and his family to Saracens.

"He is driven to take his game to new levels and we are excited he has chosen to do that at Saracens."

Davies has won 20 caps for Wales, with his last appearance coming against Uruguay in the Rugby World Cup last October.

Dave Rennie is set to start work as Australia head coach ahead of schedule as Danny Wilson will take charge of Glasgow Warriors from next Monday.

Rennie was due to leave the Warriors at the end of the Pro14 season next month, but there has not yet been a decision on whether the campaign will resume amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Glasgow on Tuesday revealed Wilson will replace Rennie on June 1 in order for both coaches to give their new roles "undivided attention" when rugby union resumes.

Rennie will therefore be free to fully focus on watching Australian Super Rugby franchises in action when they get under way again.

Warriors managing director Nathan Bombrys told the Scottish team's website: "We've agreed that this is the right time for Danny Wilson to formally begin his role as head coach of Glasgow Warriors.

"The original plan was for Danny to come in after Six Nations and shadow Dave and his coaching team for the rest of this campaign. We appreciate Dave's willingness to be open and supportive, as this would have given Danny an excellent head start on next season.

"However, given that the 2019-20 season remains suspended for the foreseeable future, we felt that the best thing for the club would be to let Danny get started.

"With sport in Australia planning to return soon, making the change now will also allow Dave to begin his new role as head coach of the Australian national team.

"We are grateful to Dave for everything he has done for our club over the past three seasons, and particularly for how he has been supportive of the current situation, as well as his willingness to share his vast coaching knowledge with all of our coaches."

All Blacks star and Crusaders captain Scott Barrett re-signed with New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and the Super Rugby side until 2023.

Barrett's recommitment to NZR runs through to the 2023 Rugby World Cup, it was announced on Tuesday.

The 26-year-old lock, who is one of three brothers in the All Blacks squad alongside Beauden and Jordie Barrett, has made 36 international appearances since debuting for New Zealand in 2016.

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster said: "This is massive news for New Zealand Rugby and the All Blacks.

"Scott has already made an outstanding contribution to the team since making his debut back in 2016 and we know the best is yet to come. It's really exciting for the future having him re-signed."

Barrett and the Crusaders are preparing for the start of next month's Super Rugby Aotearoa.

The Crusaders, Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes and Highlanders will begin a season of their own, starting June 13, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

New Zealand's five Super Rugby teams will play each other home and away over 10 weeks, beginning with a clash between the Highlanders and Chiefs behind closed doors in Dunedin on June 13.

Scotland back Ruaridh Jackson has announced his retirement.

The 32-year-old Glasgow Warriors star confirmed the news in an Instagram post on Monday.

Jackson featured 33 times for his country and declared he had lived his "childhood dream".

He is now set to pursue a new career in the drinks industry.

"It is not the fairytale ending I may have dreamed about, but I want to say a huge thank you," he wrote on Instagram.

"I have achieved more than I could ever have dreamed of, but it is now time to embrace a new challenge.

"I have been so fortunate to live out my childhood dream of playing rugby, not just professionally but for my country.

"It has been a journey that has allowed me to travel the world, make some incredible friends and, without doubt, has given me some of the happiest days of my life.

"I have played at some amazing clubs: Wasps, Harlequins and, of course, two stints at Glasgow Warriors, which will always hold a special place in my heart. The supporters will be one of the things I will miss most."

Jackson debuted for Scotland in 2010 against New Zealand and went on to score 37 points on the international stage.

Having started out with Glasgow, he returned to the club in 2017 following spells with Wasps and Harlequins. 

Rugby Australia (RA) has said a World Rugby bailout will provide "certainty for the next 12 months" after the national association plunged into a financial crisis.

The impact of coronavirus has been a major factor in Rugby Australia suffering drastic economic worries, with a host of staff stood down for several months and players taking hefty pay cuts.

It has now secured a payout of 14.2million Australian dollars from the global governing body, released as part of a COVID-19 emergency relief fund.

All international tours scheduled for July have been cancelled, it was announced on Friday, meaning Australia's matches against Ireland and Fiji cannot take place.

It remains to be seen whether the Rugby Championship can take place later in the year, which would also help the Australian game financially.

Rob Clarke, interim chief executive of RA, said: "Our game has suffered an enormous impact globally from COVID-19 and we are very grateful for the support of World Rugby and commend them on their leadership in managing this issue for the global game.

"The financial implications of the virus have been significant for Rugby Australia and this emergency relief funding will provide us with certainty for the next 12 months and enable us to close off our 2019 accounts.

"The funding, in combination with the extensive cuts made across the business, provides us with the short-term impetus to see through the pandemic but does not solve all of the challenges.

"The board is continuing to work through its plans for organisational reform and additionally there are key conversations to be had across the game’s stakeholders about our rugby offering for 2020 and beyond.

"The World Rugby funding provides a much-needed boost and a level of security as we continue this important work."

World Rugby has taken the decision to postpone all international rugby matches scheduled for July because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Reigning Rugby World Cup holders South Africa had been due to face Scotland and Georgia, while England were set to tour Japan and New Zealand had been scheduled to host Wales and Scotland.

However, all of those matches, and Ireland's tour of Australia, have been postponed with no new dates set.

A statement from World Rugby read: "Extended travel and quarantine restrictions that apply to numerous countries, and concerns over adequate player preparation time, mean that any sort of cross-border international rugby competition cannot be hosted in July.

"Monitoring of the potential impact on the remaining 2020 international windows continues in collaboration with international rugby stakeholders and the respective authorities.  

"All parties, including member unions, international competitions, professional club competitions and International Rugby Players, will be involved in the evaluation of potential contingency options with a view to achieving an aligned calendar for the remainder of the year.

"All decision-making will be entirely contingent on national government travel, quarantine and health advice and important player welfare and hosting considerations in line with return-to-rugby guidance recently published by World Rugby."

Rugby Australia's general manager Ben Whitaker had previously suggested that games could be rescheduled for October.

International rugby has been on hold since March when the Six Nations was halted with four matches still to play.

The financial impact of having no games has already severely impacted the unions in Australia and the USA, with World Rugby having set up a $100million relief fund.

 

The late, great Jonah Lomu would have been celebrating his 45th birthday on Tuesday.

News of the New Zealand legend's death at the age of only 40 rocked the sporting world in November 2015.

The giant wing tormented opponents during his magnificent career with such searing pace, incredible power and skill.

We pick some of the moments in which Lomu demonstrated why he was such a phenomenon.

Four-midable powerhouse demolishes England

Lomu had only just turned 20 when he got his first experience of the Rugby World Cup in South Africa back in 1995 and he was very much at home on the big stage.

England were simply unable to contain the powerful flyer in the semi-final at Newlands, Lomu scoring a sensational four tries in a 45-29 victory.

Lomu set the tone with a stunning early solo score, brushing off Tony Underwood and darting past Will Carling before steamrollering his way through Mike Catt and touching down.

He clinically added another three tries to set up a final against the hosts, which the Springboks won at Ellis Park.

 

Deja vu at Twickenham

England must have felt they had already seen more than enough of the imposing Lomu ahead of another World Cup showdown at Twickenham 21 years ago.

The two sides were locked at 16-16 in a Pool B match when Lomu produced another moment of magic in the second half.

He bolted down the left flank at great speed, hurtling past Jeremy Guscott and beating another three defenders before dotting down for a sublime score in the corner.

The All Blacks went on to win 30-16, thanks in no small part to the unstoppable Lomu.

 

All Blacks suffer Les Bleus despite jaw-dropping double

October 31, 1999 was a day to forget for New Zealand fans but Lomu sparkled again in a painful World Cup semi-final defeat to France.

He conjured up another jaw-dropping individual try when a swarm of blue shirts were unable to halt his charge from midfield.

Lomu added another for the showreel early in the second half after combining magnificently with Jeff Wilson as the All Blacks steamed into a 24-10 lead.

France came storming back at Twickenham, though, winning a thriller 43-31 to leave New Zealand shell-shocked despite the brilliance of Lomu.

 

Scotland blown away

Lomu's only other Test hat-trick came in a 69-20 demolition of Scotland in Dunedin. 

The All Blacks ran riot at Carisbrook in 2000, Lomu again taking centre stage with a world-class display of finishing.

Sheer strength, persistence and a blistering turn of foot gave him an opening try, getting over the line having got back to his feet after being taken down briefly by Chris Paterson.

His other two tries were more straightforward as weary Scotland were given a brutal lesson.

England defence coach John Mitchell expects Saracens duo Maro Itoje and Mako Vunipola to make "good decisions" over their futures.

Itoje has been linked with a loan move to Racing 92 and there are no certainties over which club his England team-mate Vunipola will play for next season after Sarries were relegated from the Premiership for breaching salary-cap regulations.

England head coach Eddie Jones is unable to select players based overseas, but Mitchell is confident Itoje and Vunipola will still be available for selection.

The New Zealander said: "I'm sure Eddie, as he is very good at, is guiding them and helping them and they have probably sought his advice.

"They've got family and friends and people within Saracens who they trust. 

"I'm quite confident that they will make good decisions, that are right for them and their families and also that are right in terms of playing Test rugby for England because they are two guys who love playing for England."

Mitchell knows the coaching staff and players must be ready to adapt their methods when rugby union returns after being suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The RFU and our medics are working very closely with the government and it’s important I leave it with them," he added.

"No one knows what the pecking order will be. I guess it's just sensible that non-contact sports will be the creators of the start, I guess, and we'll learn from what we experience and what they go through. When we eventually get the green button then we as a coaching group will need to be ready.

"We're going to have to be creative and innovative around how we do things. A lot of our players are going to be better for this as well because they've had to find a way to train with home constraints.

"We are going to have to find different ways to train based on the distancing."

Vincent Clerc is excited by the potential a youthful France side has but warned it is premature to be talking up their chances of winning the 2023 Rugby World Cup on home soil.

Les Bleus were top of the Six Nations table with one game to play against Ireland when the tournament was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic in March.

An inexperienced France team had started the Fabien Galthie era in style by beating England and were on course for a Grand Slam before losing to Scotland at Murrayfield.

French rugby fans have been starved of success in recent times, with their last Six Nations title coming a decade ago.

Clerc is optimistic about the future, but stressed the importance of patience. 

Reflecting on the Six Nations performances, the former France wing told Stats Perform: "It was nice to watch. It is enjoyable, we wanted to see them winning. They started very well against England and lost one game.

"We are getting excited with this team and that's normal because we know they are very talented, they have a good team spirit, the players want to be together and play for each other. There is a solidarity between the players, so we like them.

"But we have to be patient. They are young players, they can make some mistakes, there will be some defeats. We said many good things about them, but there are some difficulties, we can't be too severe.

"We have to give them some time to grow. They have a good potential and a great team spirit. It was what we were expecting. The team spirit and the values of this team were important in the last Six Nations, maybe more important than the performances on the field."

Clerc says France must show more proof that they can step up against high-quality opposition before the next World Cup.

"I think they have to be ready before 2023, 2023 is the final goal. I think that many players, who are now in the French national team, will play several World Cups," he added.

"I think this team has to be stronger and stronger to be at 100 per cent in 2023. That also means that, in the meantime, they have to win Six Nations, they have to win friendly games in November or in the summer, they need to win against teams from the Southern Hemisphere.

"It will be important, they have to learn. There will be some ups and downs in the next years."

Rugby Australia (RA) interim CEO Rob Clarke wants a swift return to play and to get a handle on the organisation's financial state.

Clarke outlined his two key objectives at his first media conference in the role on Thursday, having met with board members on Zoom beforehand.

The former Brumbies and Rebels CEO has replaced Raelene Castle after her controversial reign came to an end last month.

He is in no doubt as to the scale of the task facing him, with rugby on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has had a huge monetary impact.

"There's a lot to be done," said Clarke. "The game has gone through a very, very challenging period and the first item on the agenda is to get ourselves playing around the country again.

"I'm delighted with the plans that have been put into place with the team here, we're well positioned for when the restrictions are lifted and will enable us to get rugby played at both a community level and a professional level as soon as we possibly can."

Clarke revealed proposals had been put to the Australian government for the sport to return, with July the earliest date play could resume at the elite level.

"[At the] professional level, our plans have been submitted to the government," he said.

"Assuming that restrictions are lifted as we hope in the next week or so, we would aim to be playing in possibly July with training starting in June, but of course it's all tied to restrictions.

"The government has our proposal and I hope they view it favourably and that will give us a rough time frame."

Prior to her departure, Castle announced provisional losses of $9.4million for RA in 2019, with a much larger deficit – reported as up to $120m ​– on the books for 2020 if rugby does not return this year.

Clarke, however, is hopeful a World Rugby bailout will ease RA's worries.

"That is something that is absolute priority, clearly the game is not in healthy financial shape, we know that, the exact details I'll get across in coming days," he said.

"I'm confident that World Rugby money is secure and that will be approved imminently and that goes a long way to relieving some immediate financial pressures. But I need a little bit more time to get under the numbers and understanding where we're at."

Rugby Australia (RA) director Peter Wiggs has resigned just over a month after joining the board.

Wiggs was elected as a director on March 30, but his resignation was confirmed on Wednesday.

The Supercars chairman was poised to become RA chairman before a fallout over his chief executive plans, according to a report from the Sydney Morning Herald.

In a statement, RA chairman Paul McLean said: "Peter has decided to step down from the board and I understand his reasons.

"He has undertaken some very important work and has made a valuable contribution to the organisation, in a very short time, and we are thankful for his contribution.

"The immediate priority of the board is to install a replacement for Peter, and an interim chief executive. I will provide an update on those matters at the appropriate time."

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