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SA Rugby cut budget but Springbok Tests still planned

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Cape Town (AFP)

South African Rugby announced on Tuesday huge budget cuts and the cancellation of several events because of the coronavirus pandemic but said it still hoped scheduled Test matches for the world champion Springboks would go ahead.

Chief executive of SA Rugby Jurie Roux said the sport's stakeholders had agreed to cut between R700 million (about US$36.8 million) and R1 billion (about US$52.6 million) from the budget for the next eight months against what he said was a "worst-case" scenario in which no rugby would be played during the period.

The cuts will include salary reductions for officials and players.

"Our income is tied to the playing of professional rugby and without matches we potentially don't have any income," said Roux.

He said the decision had been agreed in principle by all stakeholders, including representatives of players.

"These are unprecedented times, not only for rugby in South Africa, but across all spheres of life all over the globe," said Roux.

Roux said all age group events with the exception of a planned under-21 provincial competition, had been scrapped, while all club rugby was on hold because the country was in lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

But he said home Test matches against Scotland, on July 4 and July 11, remained on the schedule as well as a fixture against Georgia on July 18.

The first Test against Scotland will hold special significance as it is likely to be the last match at the historic Newlands stadium in Cape Town.

The Rugby Championship involving home and away matches against Argentina, Australia and New Zealand during August and September, was also still set to go ahead.

The Currie Cup provincial competition and other franchise tournaments had also not yet been cancelled.

But Roux said all fixtures were dependent on contingency planning around the ilnness' situation.

"We are currently on a return to train and play readiness plan but this is dependent on government advice and decisions as the pandemic evolves," he said.

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