Scotland coach Townsend to take 25 percent pay deferral

Edinburgh (AFP) –


Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend is to take a 25 percent pay deferral in response to the coronavirus outbreak, it was announced Tuesday.

The same deferral, covering the period April 1 to September 1, will also apply to the coaches of Scotland's two professional rugby union teams -- Edinburgh boss Richard Cockerill and Glasgow counterpart Dave Rennie -- as well as Scottish Rugby Union performance director Jim Mallinder.

Rennie, however, is set to leave in June to become the coach of Australia.

SRU chief executive Mark Dodson, one of the highest paid administrators in the game, will have a salary deferral of 30 percent from April 1 to September 1.

There was an outcry when it was revealed that Dodson, already on a large annual salary of £455,000 ($563,543) had received an additional £478,000 in bonuses, accrued over three years and paid in one lump sum in 2019, bringing his total earnings to £933,000 ($1.16 million).

And the fact he is taking a deferral as opposed to a cut while rugby is in a shutdown that started a fortnight ago may lead to fresh criticism.

But pay cuts for players and staff could become an option depending on how long the outbreak stops rugby being played, with the SRU anticipating coronavirus-induced consequences "for some time to come".

Scotland's concluding Six Nations clash away to Wales was less than 24 hours before its scheduled March 14 date and may not now be played until October.

And the SRU has also now admitted there are major doubts over whether the upcoming tour to South Africa and New Zealand will go ahead.

Tuesday's announcement, which came after a SRU board conference call on Friday is designed to help keep Scottish rugby viable at a time when there are no matches because of the spread of COVID-19.

It follows similar moves by national unions in England and Australia, although the Twickenham hierarchy of England's Rugby Football Union, including coach Eddie Jones, will be taking a pay cut of more than 25 percent for up to three months, as opposed to a deferral.

The coronavirus is having an impact on rugby union across the world, with USA Rugby filing for bankruptcy protection after its financial problems were exacerbated by the outbreak.

Scottish Rugby Board chairman Colin Grassie said: "We are working extremely hard to navigate the sport of rugby in Scotland through these extremely challenging times.

"We have a huge challenge ahead of us, but we will get there together and we will leave no stone left unturned to ensure the long term sustainability of Scottish Rugby and the sport in Scotland."

The SRU also confirmed a halt to "all non-critical capital expenditure on its Murrayfield headquarters in Edinburgh and to "wider projects", including the new Edinburgh ground on the back pitches of the national stadium.

Meanwhile officials said Murrayfield had also been offered to the Scottish Government to use "in any way the country needs" during the outbreak.