Rugby Australia chief executive officer Raelene Castle is taking a 50 per cent pay cut and foreshadowed more cuts in other areas, but is adamant the code will survive into next year.
The COVID-19 pandemic has robbed RA of ongoing match day and broadcast revenue, causing further financial heartache after legal costs and the settlement of the Israel Folau saga.
At their annual general meeting on Monday, RA revealed a $9.4 million operating deficit for 2019.
Castle said there would be a professional game in 2021 but her main focus was on the next three months.
She revealed details of her personal sacrifice.
I”‘m taking a 50 per cent pay cut and the senior executives will be taking a 30 per cent pay cut,” Castle said after the AGM.
Asked if that was good enough if she would still earn over $400,000, Castle said: “All these things will be discussed on a monthly basis.
“I think that’s a pretty good start point to set an example around how important I think this issue is.”
She said new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie hadn’t featured in pay cut discussions as he hadn’t started the job yet.
Castle offered no figures about player pay cuts, saying she would meet with the Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA) on Tuesday.
“I said to RUPA that we wouldn’t come to the table with a fait accompli and that it’s going to be presented to them as a ‘take it or leave it,'” Castle said.
“That we would work through that scenario planning with RUPA, that’s a commitment I made to (RUPA CEO) Justin (Harrison) and I stand by that and we’ll start those discussions tomorrow.”
She said it was highly unlikely the three July home Tests would go ahead.
Outlining savings RA has already made, Castle hinted at further cost cuts, potentailly involving her staff.
“Over the last ten days we’ve done nothing but scenarios around how we could take cost out of the business and that includes all the different contracts we could stop,”‘ Castle said.
“Obviously with not flying there’s lots of travel savings, all the different things we’re not doing now because of the shutdown.
“There is no doubt across our business, including our staff, we’re going to have some very difficult conversations.”
She said the 2021 calendar could look different to what was currently planned and while RA was still working on retaining a four-team Super Rugby presence other options could be considered.
RA chairman Paul McLean admitted the code had been thrown into “unprecedented and extremely uncertain times” which would require significant cuts across the business for the sport to remain financially viable.
RA’s operating costs increased by $6.6 million in 2019, with the Folau legal case tipping the scales alongside extra community grants and player payments.
A dearth of domestic Tests in a World Cup year and the shutdown of the current Super Ruby season also damaged RA’s bottom line.
RA quoted a provisional $9.4 million loss in the absence of a fully audited financial account, which is not yet available due to complications stemming from the coronavirus.
Supercars chairman Peter Wiggs, Virgin Blue co-founder Brett Godfrey and Wallabies great Daniel Herbert were confirmed as new RA board members at the meeting.