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."

With Eddie Jones having extended his contract until the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, England fans can look forward to the Australian providing more special moments.

Jones led England to the Six Nations Grand Slam in 2016 - his first tournament at the helm - and they were champions again a year later, while only a defeat to South Africa stopped them winning last year's Rugby World Cup.

The 60-year-old made his side one of the best in the sport, and with his calculated wit and sharp tongue he arguably provides the best off-the-pitch entertainment in rugby.

We look back at some of Jones' most memorable quotes.

 

"Well, guys, can you just send my best wishes to Warren to make sure he enjoys the third and fourth place play-off."

Jones' response when Wales coach Warren Gatland, who saw his team defeated by South Africa in the last four, suggested England could have already played their World Cup final when they beat New Zealand in the semis.

“I think the term 'world class' is used lightly. To be world class, you've got to be an automatic selection in a world XV. We don’t have any of those players. Now, we've got a lot of good players and a lot of players who want to get better. So to say we don't have world class players is not a criticism of the players and not a criticism of the team. It's just the reality of it."

Having said England had no "world-class players" upon his appointment in 2015, Jones was adamant it remained the case after racking up 13 straight Test wins to start his tenure.

"France can expect absolute brutality from England, we are going to go out there to make sure they understand what Test rugby is. It is about being brutal, it is about being physical."

Jones laid down the gauntlet ahead of England's 2020 Six Nations opener against France and it backfired, as Les Bleus clinched a 24-17 victory in Paris.

"No one thinks we can win. New Zealand talk about walking towards pressure - well, this week the pressure is going to be chasing them down the street. The busiest bloke in Tokyo this week will be Gilbert Enoka, their mental skills coach. They have to deal with all this pressure of winning the World Cup three times. It is potentially the last game for their greatest coach and their greatest captain and they will be thinking about those things. Those thoughts go through your head. It is always harder to defend a World Cup, and they will be thinking about that, and therefore there is pressure."

After suggesting New Zealand had sent a spy to watch England train ahead of their World Cup semi-final clash, Jones turned up the heat on the All Blacks.

"I just went through immigration and I got shunted through the area where everything got checked. That's what I'm expecting, mate. Everything that's done around the game is going to be coordinated. All coordinated to help Australia win. We've got to be good enough to control what we can control."

Jones claimed Australia were going to make England's life as difficult as possible after arriving for a three-Test tour in June 2016.

"We control our own destiny. We want to go out there and smack Italy. I have told the boys already that that is our aim - to go out there and give them a good hiding. If you look at the rankings we are a better side than Italy. We have to prove that on Sunday. We want to be absolutely brutal up front so there is no Italian player left standing at the end of the game."

Ahead of only his second game in charge, Jones made it clear he expected a significant increase in physicality from his players.

"We've played 23 Tests and we've only lost one Test to the scummy Irish. I'm still dirty about that game but we'll get that back, don't worry."

England were hoping to deny Ireland the Grand Slam in their final 2018 Six Nations game and Jones was out for revenge after they inflicted the first defeat of his tenure. He later apologised for the comment and Ireland triumphed 24-15 at Twickenham.

"If he was Sexton then we'd be able to complain about him. But because he's Owen Farrell he's allowed to be hit late. He's tough so he gets up and he plays. He's a tough rooster, a warrior. He takes the ball to the line, he puts his body on the line, he doesn't play in a dinner suit."

Jones suggested Owen Farrell's determination to play through pain led to him getting less protection from referees than Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton.

Eddie Jones will look to enhance his legacy with England over the next four years after signing a new contract extension.

It was announced on Thursday that the 60-year-old will stay on as England coach until the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Jones, who had previously been in charge of Australia and Japan, was appointed England's coach five years ago.

Here, using Stats Perform data, we take a look at Jones' tenure in numbers.

 

78 per cent - Having led his team to victory in 42 of 54 games, Jones has the best win ratio of any coach in England's history.

42 wins - Those 42 wins are the second most of all time and Jones should exceed World Cup winner Clive Woodward's 59 victories in the coming years.

40 players - Across Jones' time in charge, 40 players have been handed England debuts. Of those, 26 are forwards and 14 are backs.

23 tries - Jonny May has certainly enjoyed Jones' coaching, the wing crossing for 23 tries. Elliot Daly has the second-most scores with 15.

52 caps - Jones has handed a cap to fly-half George Ford in all but two of his 54 games at the helm. England's current captain Owen Farrell has the second-most appearances under Jones with 48.

571 points - Farrell has by far and away the most points, though. His tally of 571 is significantly more than those of Ford (174) and May (115).

2 Six Nations titles - England won the Six Nations in each of Jones' first two campaigns. In 2016, Jones delivered the country's first Grand Slam in 13 years.

18 wins in a row - A second Grand Slam was dashed by Ireland in March 2017. That 13-9 loss in Dublin brought an end to England's 18-Test winning run, a joint-record they held with New Zealand.

7-0 v Australia - The nation England have beaten the most often under Jones is Australia, the country of his birth. England have won all seven of their matches against the Wallabies.

England coach Eddie Jones has signed a contract extension through until the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Jones, 60, took the helm of England in late 2015 and has been rewarded for what has been a successful stint in charge.

The Australian has overseen 42 wins in 54 Tests as England coach, including leading them to last year's Rugby World Cup final, where they were beaten by South Africa.

Jones has re-signed through until the end of the Rugby World Cup in 2023, which is due to be hosted by France.

"The extension is a great honour for me, but in the current environment, it is only right to acknowledge what a difficult time the world is facing," the England coach said.

"We are all looking forward to a time when we can get back to playing rugby and use the sport as a force for good in bringing people back together.

"I never thought coming here four years ago I would be doing a second four years, but the circumstances are right.

"Obviously it is important for the team that we keep improving and my focus will be solely on that."

Jones' 78 per cent win ratio is the best of any England coach in the nation's history.

During his tenure, Jones has led England to two Six Nations titles - including a Grand Slam in 2016 - a 3-0 series victory in Australia and an 18-match unbeaten run.

Jones added: "I am excited about raising the standards again. We have a great team. We set out four years ago to be the best team in the world and unfortunately we missed that by 80 minutes.

"Now we want to be the team that is remembered as being the greatest team the game has ever seen. It's a big ambition but I believe we are capable of doing it.

"We have players with an enhanced reputation, we have a team that is expected to do well, so it's a great opportunity for us to keep moving forward."

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has announced wage cuts for its staff as it faces up to huge losses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and confirmed its five Super Rugby franchises will receive grants.

Reports suggest the governing body could lose out on 100million New Zealand dollars in revenue.

Chief executive Mark Robinson said NZR staff and its board are taking a 40 per cent cut for at least three months.

It follows similar measures taken by other top-tier rugby nations.

"It's an incredibly challenging time, we have fantastic rugby people all around the country at the moment dealing with difficult financial circumstances," Robinson told reporters.

NZR also confirmed its Super Rugby teams will receive an emergency grant to help ensure they are prepared for when the competition can resume.

"An emergency NZR grant of $250,000 each is to be made available to all Super Rugby clubs for the next three months which is seen as a critical supplement to other financing options or levers being considered by the clubs," Robinson added.

"Super Rugby is a vital part of our rugby eco-system and has a solid 25-year track record as a strong and admired rugby competition that has valuable intellectual property and a legacy of world-class rugby.

"These decisions are about protecting the core capability of the Super Rugby clubs so that they are ready to hit the ground running if Super Rugby resumes later this year, and also be in a position to revive and participate in Super Rugby in whatever shape it takes in 2021 and beyond.

"The Super Rugby clubs and NZR have also agreed to pause the negotiation of Super Rugby franchise licenses and use this time to review the business principles and governance of the competition so that the future of the clubs is sustainable, and they are match ready."

Michael Fatialofa has opened up on his "traumatising" experience in intensive care and described suffering his serious spine injury as "pretty scary".

The Worcester Warriors lock sustained a fracture in his C4 vertebrae as well as a spinal contusion, a condition which causes compression on the spine, during the Premiership encounter with Saracens on January 4.

Fatialofa spent four weeks at St Mary's Hospital in London, three of those in intensive care, before being transferred to a specialist spinal clinic at the Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital.

Last month, his wife Tatiana posted a video on Instagram of Fatialofa walking unaided, which she described as "a miracle".

In an interview with 1 NEWS, Fatialofa spoke about those life-changing events.

"I wasn't even trying to be a hero or anything. I think it was just the perfect mix - my head was in a bad position. His hip was there and it was just one of those things," he said.

"From my neck down, I couldn't feel anything or move anything.

"It was pretty scary and I was really short of breath because ... the spinal cord was compressed and anything below the spinal cord is affected, and that includes my lungs, and I was just kind of trying to breathe."

On being in intensive care, he added: "It's a time that's tough to think about.

"My room-mates were victims of gun violence and stabbings and I could hear everything going on. Just all the beeping and no sleep. It's something I don't really like thinking about now that I'm past it.

"I heard some people die next to me. It was quite traumatising. All I could hear was a beeper go off, everyone rush in and then I have a new room-mate the next day."

Rugby Australia (RA) has stood down 75 per cent of its workforce for three months in a move it called "the toughest decision in the game's history".

Its remaining staff have been offered significant salary reductions or reduced hours after the coronavirus outbreak brought Super Rugby and the international game to a halt.

RA chief executive Raelene Castle has agreed to a 50 per cent pay cut, while other executives will receive 30 per cent less from April 1 until June 30.

Plans to launch a five-team domestic competition during the suspension of Super Rugby have been put on hold until at least May 1.

Castle said in a statement on Tuesday: "Today we have had to deliver the hardest news imaginable to our incredible, hard-working and passionate staff, that many of them will be stood down for a three-month period so that the game can survive this unprecedented crisis.

"Since the suspension of our proposed domestic Super Rugby competition, we have been working to understand both the immediate and long-term financial implications for the game as a result of the suspension of the competition, and potential further loss of revenue-generating content as we look ahead to the international season.

"Our extensive modelling shows that as a code, we could lose up to [AU]$120million in revenue should it not be possible for any rugby to be played in 2020. Of course, that is the worst-case scenario, and we are very hopeful that we can recommence the Super Rugby season and domestic Wallabies Test matches at some point this year.

"The measures we will implement from April 1, although extremely painful, 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. It is our priority to keep all of our valued team connected and engaged through this period.

"We shared with the Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA) today the breadth of our cost-cutting including the standing down of 75 per cent of our staff. We will work closely with RUPA to reach an agreement which is appropriate given this unprecedented situation.

"I want to pay tribute to each and every member of staff across our rugby organisations and once again stress that once we get through this crisis, and we will, rugby will be back stronger than ever. All staff on stand down will have continued access to Rugby Australia support services during this time."

The Rebels and Brumbies announced all their employees would be stood down or continue with reduced pay until the end of June.

USA Rugby has filed for bankruptcy as the coronavirus pandemic takes its toll on sport across the world.

In a statement on Monday, USA Rugby said the impact of COVID-19 has accelerated existing financial issues after voting to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy.

USA Rugby suspended sanctioned competition and rugby activities indefinitely on March 20 due to the coronavirus crisis.

The American union will undergo a restructuring process with input from World Rugby, while the United States' men's and women's senior national teams will continue to compete as normal when the sport returns.

"This is the most challenging period this organisation has faced and all resolves were never taken lightly in coming to this determination," said USA Rugby Chair Barbara O'Brien.

"While the current climate is of course much larger than rugby, we remain focused with stakeholders and supporters in the continued effort toward a balanced rugby community where the game can truly grow."

Globally, there have been over 37,700 deaths and at least 784,380 confirmed cases.

In the United States, more than 3,100 people have succumbed to the virus, with over 163,400 cases.

The British and Irish Lions have no concerns that the rescheduling of the Tokyo Olympic Games will overshadow the tour of South Africa next year.

It was announced on Monday that the Games in Japan will be staged from July 23 to August 8, 2021 after being postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Lions start the three-Test series against world champions South Africa on July 24, with further showdowns to come on July 31 and August 7.

Lions managing director Ben Calveley says kick-off times will prevent sports lovers from missing any of the action.

"Fans should not miss out on any action," said Calveley.

"We are determined to play our part in what will be an extraordinary summer of sport."

He added: "The priority right now has to be the safety and well-being of all those affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

"There should not be any direct clashes with Lions matches and Olympic events given the time difference between South Africa and Tokyo.

"We are expecting a fantastic series against the world champions."

Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle has taken a 50 per cent pay cut as part of cost-saving measures during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, RA reported a provisional deficit of 9.4million Australian dollars in 2019, largely due to the expense of the Rugby World Cup, fewer home Test matches, and higher extra expenditures such as the Israel Folau settlement.

With rugby competitions on hold due to the threat of COVID-19, RA finances are set to take a greater hit due to the loss of matchday and broadcast revenue.

Castle confirmed on Monday that she will be reducing her salary by AUD400,000, while the rest of her executive team will take 30 per cent pay cuts for at least the next three months.

It is anticipated players may now accept similar salary cuts while the pandemic continues.

Justin Harrison, CEO of the Rugby Union Players' Association (RUPA), said: "As a playing group, the members take an indication that pay cuts of between 30 and 50 per cent are considered adequate to help nurse the game through this crisis.

"Our fear was deeper cuts might be needed and that the game was in a financial black hole."

Castle explained: "It's important that we keep Rugby Australia, Super [Rugby] teams and other member unions all in a financially viable situation over the next three months to make sure any decisions we make going forward for rugby in this country will be made with time, with the accurate financial information, and we can make any of those decisions calmly and in a considered way knowing that we've got certainties for at least the next three months.

"Those decisions are significant, and we will continue to work closely with government and with COMPPS [Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports] around how an industry package for sport might be developed for all of sport.

"We're in constant dialogue with government around any financial situation we find ourselves in and that we might have for additional loans for grants or loan facilities."

Rugby Australia (RA) reported a provisional deficit of 9.4 million Australian dollars in 2019 after holding its annual general meeting on Monday.

The meeting was held via video conference and RA was unable to provide full financial accounts due to uncertainty because of the coronavirus pandemic.

RA said it operated at a loss in 2019, as it expected, in a Rugby World Cup year and due to fewer domestic Test matches.

Increased expenditure in community rugby, high performance and marketing and corporate, including the Israel Folau settlement, led to its deficit.

RA chief executive Raelene Castle last year labelled reports the governing body paid Folau eight million AUD after his sacking as "wildly inaccurate".

"These are unprecedented and extremely uncertain times for our world, not only our sport with the global pandemic of COVID-19," RA chairman Paul McLean said in a statement.

"To put it simply, there is no way of knowing what damage this crisis will have on our game, or for how long it will continue to impact us.

"It has forced us to make some extremely difficult decisions, and there will be even harder decisions to come as we continue to navigate the implications of the virus on the game's finances.

"It was important for us today to review the year and reflect on our learnings from 2019, however the uncertainty that we are facing regarding our immediate future naturally led the discussion at the meeting."

Bath captain Charlie Ewels has slammed reports suggesting the club's players revolted after being asked to take a pay cut due to financial pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this week, chief executive Tarquin McDonald announced Bath had asked players and staff to take a 25 per cent cut, with several other Premiership sides taking similar measures.

Sunday's edition of The Rugby Paper suggested Bath players were planning to reject the request, something England lock Ewels rejected.

"You might have seen the front page of The Rugby Paper today and if you did, given what we are all experiencing at this time, it would be fair if you felt a sense of disbelief or even disgrace at the headline which reads 'Bath stars revolt over pay cuts'," Ewels wrote in an open letter to Bath supporters.

"As captain of our club, I can categorically say that these reports are not true, and as a playing group, we are not in revolt against our club. In fact, it's quite the opposite, we wish to work with the club through this extremely challenging time so we can get back to where we all want to be, playing rugby at the Rec again.  

"Everyone at Bath Rugby is committed to working through this together, and the players within the squad that I am fortunate enough to serve as captain are no different. We play rugby for a living and we understand that if we are not playing games, then there is no money coming in. It is a difficult time for everyone at the club, however, we are all on this journey together.

"We as players understand everything happening across the globe is having a huge impact, and that impact is reaching far beyond us. I can say that I 100 per cent support the principle of the pay cuts, as do the majority of players at the club, believing they are what is right to guide the club through this tough period.

"Like players at all other clubs, we have been guided by the advice of our union the RPA during this hugely uncertain time. We are seeking answers to some specific questions regarding players on lower salaries and players coming to the end of their contracts.

"However, we are discussing these questions openly and transparently with Stuart [Hooper, director of rugby] and Tarquin and I know we will find the right answers in due course. We will do what is right for the future of our people, our club and our game." 

New Zealand head coach Ian Foster has agreed to a "big" cut in his salary during the coronavirus pandemic.

Foster confirmed he and his fellow coaches have already reached an agreement with New Zealand Rugby, while discussions with players are also at an advanced stage.

"Our coaching group has definitely taken a big cut," Foster said to Newstalk ZB.

"That's already been agreed to - with rugby when there's no games, there's no revenue, and that's a tough thing. There's been a lot of shaving of the programmes inside and what it's also come down to is cutting.

"It's a different sort of process for players but I know they're willing to go into that space too.

"Theirs is a more complex [situation] - but it's a given and they understand that. It's just a matter of working it through so all the different levels of players are dealt with fairly.

"I haven't heard one player yet who doesn't accept that it's going to happen. There's a real willingness of those involved in the game to get behind this and do whatever it takes to make sure [the game] survives."

Foster believes the three home Test matches scheduled for July, two against Wales and another against Scotland, are unlikely to go ahead.

He wants the All Blacks players to maintain a base level of fitness, though conceded a "short period" would still be needed after the lockdown to up their levels to full match readiness.

"If you look at the probability, there's a reasonably good chance that international travel and borders won't be down across the world at that point, so in that case the All Blacks won't be playing in July,” he added.

"[If we keep players at peak fitness] they'll just blow out mentally and get really frustrated with that because there’s so much uncertainty.

"We want the players to settle down then we'll start expecting fitness levels to be at a certain point that when the lockdown finishes and we do start to think about a starting point for rugby again."

Michael Cheika admitted he vacated the Australia hotseat with deep regret at failing to achieve his personal targets.

The Wallabies were Rugby World Cup finalists under Cheika's leadership in 2015, and recognition for that achievement came when the Sydney native landed World Rugby's Coach of the Year award.

However, last year's World Cup was one of grim failure for Australia, with a 40-16 thrashing by England in the quarter-finals sending Cheika's side out of the tournament.

It was a jarring loss for Cheika, who soon declared he would stand down as head coach, and the 53-year-old has since changed tack, crossing codes to work with NRL side Sydney Roosters.

Speaking to Fox Sports, Cheika said: “Am I satisfied in the end? No, because I wanted to win a Bledisloe and win the World Cup and I wasn’t able to do that.

"That hurts me personally because I really value the supporter on the street and I know that’s what they want."

Pertinently, he witnessed disappointments reflected in his nearest and dearest.

“I see it in my own family," Cheika said. "The kids are watching the game, all dressed in their jerseys and then the next morning, if you lose, they’re unhappy."

A Randwick great, Cheika has also coached Leinster, Stade Francais and the Waratahs in a stellar career.

Frustrations have been raised by many observers over the relationship between Rugby Australia and the Super Rugby teams, and whether each is acting in the other's best interests.

Cheika said of his time in charge of the Wallabies: "Considering the circumstances we had going on in Australian rugby in the last five years, we always represented with maximum courage."

He added: "The Wallabies are a result of our preparations in Super Rugby and they’ve been difficult because we’ve had a lot going on."

Scotland rugby union fans have been starved of success in recent times but March 27 is a date when they can always raise a glass to a moment of history.

Way back in 1871, Scotland beat neighbours England in the first ever international in Edinburgh.

It was also a memorable day in the NBA, with a record crowd in attendance as Michael Jordan starred at Georgia Dome in 1998.

Here, we take a look back at the some of the most notable sporting moments that occurred on this date down the years.

1871 - Buchanan and Scotland make history

A crowd of 4,000 flocked to Raeburn Place in Edinburgh to watch history be made.

It was the hosts who came out on top, scoring two tries and a goal to England's solitary try – with Scotland's Angus Buchanan the first man to touch down over the whitewash at international level.

There were two halves of 50 minutes apiece, with 20 players on each side and the contest decided by goals scored.

1998 – Bulls clip the Hawks' wings in front of record crowd 

Twenty-two years ago, 62,046 spectators watched on at the Georgia Dome as the Atlanta Hawks took on the Chicago Bulls.

It remains the largest crowd at any game in NBA history, having surpassed the record of 61,983 set at Detroit Pistons v Boston Celtics in 1988.

Inspired by NBA icon Jordan, the Bulls downed their hosts 89-74.

2007 – Video replays introduced to help NFL officials

On March 27, 2007, NFL owners voted to utilise video replays as a tool to assist officials – the vote passed with 30 owners in favour of the move.

Cincinnati Bengals and the Arizona Cardinals did not agree to the use of replays, with each team paying up to $300,000 to have the necessary equipment fitted at their stadiums.

"It's a long time coming," said then-Atlanta Falcons general manager Rich McKay. "It made sense to us this year to do it. Instant replay is an accepted part of the game. It's what we are. There was not really much discussion about it."

In the same meeting, a proposal to allow a second interviewing window for assistant coaches on Super Bowl teams was approved, though it was decided defenses would not be allowed to use a coach-to-player communication device.

Page 1 of 70
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.