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Rugby Australia makes huge staff cuts in £3m cost-saving measure

Rugby Australia interim CEO Rob Clarke

Rugby Australia is set to axe a third of its full-time staff plus another 30 casual workers, interim chief executive Rob Clarke has announced.

Clarke, who replaced Raelene Castle in the post last month, is undertaking a restructure of RA’s hierachy after the ongoing global health crisis exacerbated the union’s troubled financial state.

With 75 per cent of RA staff stood down since April 1, Clarke announced permanent measures to cut jobs will be taken in order to save AUD$5.5m (£3m).

“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,” Clarke said, with 47 of 142 staff set to be laid off.

“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.”

In April, RA secured an initial AUD$16m (£8.7m) loan from World Rugby to cover its debts on the proviso that it agreed a deal to cut salaries among its player based.

Striking a cut, believed to be 65 per cent, with the country’s players union has been setback by differences with broadcast partner Fox Sports.

The broadcaster has televised Super Rugby and Wallabies matches since 1995, but a RA spokesperson announced in February ‘we are preparing to take the package to market early this month’.

How this plays out in the plans to organise a competition revolving around Australia’s Super Rugby teams, plus the Western Force, remains to be seen as RA and Fox Sports are yet to sign a revised deal.

The early blueprint for a six-team competition to include the Sunwolves, the Japanese Super Rugby team who RA lobbied SANZAAR to admit to Super Rugby, could not be realised as Australia’s government still administers strict travel measures.

This effectively ends the Sunwolves’ five-year association with Super Rugby, after it had already be confirmed last year by SANZAAR that they would no longer hold a place in the competition.

The reboot of Australian rugby to a live audience comes as New Zealand prepares to launch Super Rugby Aotearoa on June 13.

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