Castle offered no specific update as to how many administrative staff at RA would be either stood down or moved on. The organisation is waiting on the expected announcement of a federal government wage subsidies package.
“Over the last 10 days we’ve done nothing but scenarios around how we can take cost out of the business and that includes all the different contracts we could stop,” Castle said. “There is no doubt that across our business, including staff, we are going to have to have some very difficult conversations.
“However, we know the government are trying to make some announcements to support staff so they get supported. We’re in dialogue with the government to understand what that allowance look like so that we can factor that into our decision-making.”
In a statement released after Monday’s AGM, RA confirmed it could not issue an annual report until audited accounts can be delivered.
“One of the implications for Rugby Australia as a result of the pandemic was that it was not able to present a full set of audited financial accounts at the meeting, due to the uncertainty surrounding the business into 2020,” a statement read.
“As expected, in a Rugby World Cup year with reductions in broadcast and match day revenue from fewer domestic Test matches, Rugby AU operated at a loss in 2019. Rugby AU reported to its members a provisional $9.4 million operating deficit for 2019 pending final audit.”
The deficit is lower than the $9.8m loss announced for 2015, the last comparable financial year that featured a Rugby World Cup and fewer Test matches at home. RA was still funding five Super Rugby teams at the time, and announced it would cut the Western Force a year later.
The Herald understands RA is set to announce staff cuts on Tuesday once it gets further clarity on the government’s wage subsidy package. Castle confirmed RA will meet the Rugby Union Players Association on Tuesday to give more information on the extent of player cuts.
In a statement, chairman Paul McLean said: “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.”
Meanwhile, Peter Wiggs, Brett Godfrey and Daniel Herbert have been appointed as new directors on the RA board, replacing former chairman Cameron Clyne, Brett Robinson and Ann Sherry.
Tom Decent is a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald