Eddie Jones is the first test rugby boss to agree a pay cut.

England's RFU announced yesterday it expects to lose up to (NZD) $100 million in revenue over the next 18 months due to the coronavirus pandemic. The executive team will, therefore, take a pay cut in excess of 25 per cent while combined board fees will also decrease by 75 per cent.

In such unprecedented times as global sport is suspended, and in a move that may yet foreshadow New Zealand rugby's future, England head coach Jones has today agreed to follow suit by taking a wage cut in excess of 25 per cent.

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said: "Eddie is overseas at present and when I contacted him regarding our executive pay reduction proposals he immediately agreed."

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Jones is the highest paid coach in international rugby - he is thought to be earning in the region of £750,000 (NZD $1.5m) per year.

The 60-year-old's deal expires in July next year and, at this stage, there has been no suggestion of extending his contract until the 2023 World Cup.

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England's next assignment is supposed to be against Japan in July but that two game tour, like all scheduled mid-year tests, looks increasingly tenuous.

News of Jones' pay cut comes while Premiership clubs attempt to impose blanket 25 per cent wage cuts on players and most staff. Such moves have been met with frustration by some players, and could lead to claims of unlawful wage deductions.

The RFU also announced a package worth £7m to provide support for community clubs in England which includes offering loans of between circa £2000 and £10,000, with deferred re-payments for six months and repayable over three years.

England head coach Eddie Jones. Photo / Photosport
England head coach Eddie Jones. Photo / Photosport

In a statement, Sweeney outlined the financial crisis facing rugby's richest union: "No one can predict every possible outcome of the Covid-19 outbreak particularly with regard to the duration of this crisis and we are managing in the unknown.

"We have modelled three potential scenarios and are working on an assumption based on a medium-term impact with a view to a return to rugby in the autumn. We will continue to monitor against this assumption and review and revise planning where necessary.

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"Based on our planning assumption we estimate RFU revenue losses over the next 18 months to be approximately £45-£50 million and have a firm plan in place to mitigate this. The RFU Executive Team will be taking a cut in remuneration in excess of 25 per cent. In addition, combined Board fees will be reduced by 75per cent.

"The RFU's biggest asset is also a major cost and the closure of Twickenham Stadium has a significant impact on the revenues we can generate to re-invest back into the game. In that sense we are like every other club in the union, when we do not stage matches and events we do not generate revenue."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

With the UK in lockdown as of yesterday, all rugby revenue streams have been frozen for the foreseeable future.

All rugby in England below the top flight Premiership is cancelled for the remainder of the season.

The Premiership is targeting a return to action on April 25 but few expect a resumption before June, at best.

"Significant progress has been made on the process for considering the implications of ending the season early. We will ensure a fair and balanced outcome for the game and are now committed to update on this by the middle of April."

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