Agustin Pichot says World Rugby doesn’t have the funds to bail out cash-strapped Sanzaar nations that have hit financial difficulty amid the global coronavirus pandemic.
Rugby Australia posted a near A$10-million loss in 2019, worsened by a hefty payout to former Wallaby Israel Folau after his sacking over homophobic social media posts. It has also been predicted that the beleaguered body stand to lose A$120m in revenue in the current financial year if the 2020 season does not resume.
Meanwhile, SA Rugby is facing a predicted financial loss of around R200m. New Zealand Rugby is also in dire financial straits and has recently received a bailout from the government.
No rugby at all in 2020 for the Wallabies, All Blacks, Springboks and Pumas would create a combined financial deficit of about nearly $800m.
But any hopes that World Rugby could jump in and rescue the Sanzaar nations have been dashed by Pichot, who says the four leading southern-hemisphere countries must work together to emerge from the crisis because it’s something World Rugby couldn’t hope to cover.
‘If Australia falls, then it hits straight to New Zealand first, then it will hit South Africa and Argentina,’ Pichot told Sky Sports.
‘There’s no individual way. The first issue we need to address is coronavirus and mitigate it. It’s not about World Rugby giving handouts, because there’s no handout possible. World Rugby does not have the 400 million pounds.
Pichot said the sport’s enforced break should prompt Sanzaar to assess the ongoing profitability and viability of its competitions, even in the short term, suggesting now might be the opportune time to assess the value of introducing Japan and Fiji to a new-look Rugby Championship.
‘Maybe you find out that that competition cannot be played because it is not profitable or is too much of a burden. Even in Argentina, can we really afford to carry on Super Rugby with the Jaguares having to pay for the trips all round the world? Maybe we have to fold Jaguares and look for other alternatives,’ he added.
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