World News – GB – Irish rugby needs a lift






Rob Herring raises James Ryan to yesterday’s Captain’s Run ahead of today’s return to the Six Nations fight against Italy Photo: INPHO / Billy Stickland

Ruaidhri O’Connor’s Twitter

On the eve of the return of the Six Nations from Ireland, the grim financial situation of the match on that island was laid bare by the IRFU, who told the players he was unable to  » start contract negotiations due to the impact of the Covid -19 pandemic

As the country currently operates under level 5 restrictions and crowds are banned from stadiums for the foreseeable future, the union reported a € 357m deficit for the 15 months to July 31 in their annual report for yesterday

Earlier this week, players received a letter from IRFU CEO Philip Browne informing them that the union will meet with representatives from Rugby Players Ireland (RPI) before deciding what to do with the broken players contract next June

Ireland and Leinster captain Johnny Sexton and fellow Lions Iain Henderson, Peter O’Mahony, Tadhg Furlong, Keith Earls and CJ Stander are all part of this group

As the impact of the pandemic ripples through the game, industry sources say clubs in France remain in a strong position and begin recruiting now While English Premiership clubs struggle in the absence of crowds, some retain the ability to offer competitive conditions

The union has already cut wages for non-players by 20 percent since June, while negotiations between the union and RPI have ended with players making more than € 25,000 a year, with a reduction of 10 percent until December 31 Additional 10% postponed to this date The 10% reduction could be increased to 15% due to the worsening of the situation and the lack of crowds in the stadiums, while the two bodies should meet again in the weeks to come


Browne said IRFU will conduct « a careful review in December to determine if we can continue with the current level of activity »

IRFU has revealed it has stepped in to help cash-strapped provinces pay their players with loans totaling up to € 16m

Honorary Treasurer Tom Grace, who is stepping down, says branch finance package is in the works

« While the provinces and IRFU are currently solvent, this situation is ultimately limited in time and unless there is a return to some level of normality in the next 12 months , with games played in front of a reasonable level of spectator paying, IRFU and the provinces will need to cut budgets significantly to ensure costs are met by declining revenues, ”Browne said

« It is no surprise that Irish rugby has had one of its worst financial years Covid-19 will continue to challenge us all until a vaccine is available and we are very grateful to the government, to our sponsors and patrons to continue supporting us at a time when we are unable to fill the Aviva Stadium with our fantastic fans »

IRFU last month pleaded for allowing fans to enter stadiums, saying that with a social distance of one meter they could accommodate 18,000 supporters at Aviva stadium

This would free them up to 30 million euros currently pending from holders of 10-year tickets and corporate seats, but with Ireland at level 5 for the next six weeks, they now know that the home games of Italy, Wales and Georgia will take place behind closed doors

It seems highly unlikely that fans will be allowed to take part in the final fall Nations Cup game against France, Italy or Fiji on December 5, when the normally lucrative matches against England and France in the Six Nations 2021 are also in great danger

The IRFU report covered a 15-month period, as it moved its reporting date, Grace revealing union income increased from € 87.5m to € 79m to € 79m as expenses increased from 84 € 2 to just under 115 million euros, the three additional months of payroll contributing to this increase

The former Irish full-back called for additional government support, but said he believed the union would be okay

« Enabling crowds to return to sporting events is vital for the union and indeed for the four branches

« In the absence of this, the funding and assistance we have received to date from governments both here and in the UK have gone a long way in ensuring that we can keep the show on the road, but it would be important that the support continues and will actually be improved if possible ”, said Grace

« I would also like to thank our sponsors, partners and customers for the patience, understanding and support they have shown us over the past six months

« The Union has always prided itself on being able to adapt to changing financial conditions and, although the scale of the challenge we face is enormous, I have no doubts that we can meet it, but there will be pain in all aspects of the game

« It is essential that we emerge from this crisis in a strong and competitive position and the Union will continue to work to this end »

IRFU elects Des Kavanagh as president He becomes the first representative of Co Carlow FC to hold the post


IRFU chief executive Philip Browne has warned that the union and the provinces will have to « drastically » cut their budgets if its sources of income remain cut


The IRFU has not entered into contractual negotiations with its players due to the uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic

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