World Rugby has stepped up to support nations through the hardships caused by the coronavirus pandemic, announcing a NZ$166 million relief fund to assist unions.
The relief fund will be available for unions requiring immediate emergency funding, providing they meet the appropriate criteria. The fund has been designed to assist as many unions as possible and for as long as possible while there is no rugby being played.
For Six Nations and Sanzaar unions, the financial package will involve a combination of advances and loans, while World Rugby is also committed to supporting emerging nations and regional associations where required.
"Global sport is facing a crisis never seen before and at this most challenging time we are taking unprecedented action as a sport united to support global rugby, its unions, competitions and players through the enormous challenge presented by the Covid-19 pandemic," World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said.
"The measures announced today will provide support and short-term relief in the form of a US$100 million relief fund, while we are making excellent progress towards calendar options that reflect and address a dynamic, complex and uncertain environment.
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"I have chaired many productive meetings in recent weeks with my union, region, competition and player colleagues and we are moving rapidly towards a viable calendar solution and, while compromises are being made, the outcome will be in the best interests of the whole game.
"This is a process with solidarity, unity and leadership at heart – one that sets a potential blueprint for successful collaboration in the future and I would like to thank everyone for their openness, cooperation and global view."
As well as revealing the sizeable relief fund, World Rugby has continued to progress in plans for a shortened test window in 2020 with the hope of delivering a viable international calendar for later in the year.
While initially a response to an unprecedented crisis, the modelling work achieved potentially provides direction for long-term reform of the rugby calendar.
World Rugby's planning has factored in the chance that cross-hemisphere travel may not be possible as well as the worst case scenario of no international rugby being able to go ahead this year.