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World Rugby announces $100m virus relief plan

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London (AFP)

World Rugby on Thursday announced details of a coronavirus relief strategy aimed at helping rugby through the pandemic underpinned by a relief fund worth about $100 million (92 million euros).

A statement from the global governing body said the strategy reflected its commitment to leading the sport through its "greatest challenge".

The relief fund will be available for unions requiring immediate emergency funding. It is designed to help the maximum number of unions for the maximum amount of time while there is no rugby.

For Six Nations and SANZAAR (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina Rugby) unions, the financial package will potentially involve a combination of advances and loans.

World Rugby said it was also committed to supporting emerging nations and regional associations.

Rugby chiefs are considering a variety of plans for how rugby can resume, including likely short-term reshaping of the international rugby calendar.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: "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.

"The measures announced today will provide support and short-term relief in the form of a $100 million relief fund, while we are committed to exploring calendar options that reflect and address a dynamic, complex and uncertain environment."

World Rugby's fund will be welcomed as unions round the world have been taking financial measures to adapt to the impact the virus was having on the sport.

New Zealand where the sport is king had become the latest to do so on Thursday.

The All Blacks accepted a 50 percent pay freeze as New Zealand's players' association said it was preparing for the nightmare scenario of no more professional rugby this year.

New Zealand Rugby and the players' association agreed to put on hold NZ$25 million ($15 million), or 50 percent of the year's remaining forecast player spend.

The cutbacks will apply to Super Rugby players, including All Blacks, the women's Black Ferns and the sevens programmes, and are designed to protect players on retainers of less than NZ$50,000.

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