World Rugby launches £80m relief fund amid coronavirus pandemic

Members of New Zealand's women's team perform the haka
World Rugby is making contingencies in case cross-hemisphere travel is not possible for international teams until 2021

World Rugby has created a $100m (£80m) relief fund to help relieve the financial pressure on the global game from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Rugby Football Union has said it expects to miss out on £50m of revenue, while Rugby Australia is another union to take drastic cost-cutting measures.external-link

"We are taking unprecedented action as a sport united to support global rugby, its unions, competitions and players," said World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont.

The global governing body is also exploring options for rearranging the international rugby calendar in the short term in preparation for sport restarting.

World Rugby's contingencies include the possibilities that cross-hemisphere travel may not be permitted, which would impact on the northern hemisphere's autumn series, and that no international rugby at all may be feasible until 2021.

"We are rapidly moving towards a viable calendar solution and, while compromises are being made, the outcome will be in the best interests of the whole game," added Beaumont.

For the Six Nations unions and Australia, Argentina, South Africa and New Zealand in the southern hemisphere, World Rugby said a financial package would "potentially involve a combination of advances and loans".

"World Rugby is also committed to supporting emerging nations and regional associations where required," it added in a statement.

An RFU spokesperson said: "We welcome all support from UK government and international federations to help sustain the game across England and the rest of the world."

A Scottish Rugby spokesperson said: "We are aware of the relief fund and will consider access to it as one of the options being investigated as part of our ongoing financial planning, as we navigate through the current Covid-19 crisis."

Beaumont is being challenged by World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot as he runs for re-election to his post next month.external-link

Pichot is calling for a "global realignment" in the game's governing structure, "moving on from the time where those benefits were for just a few".

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