All 12 development officers at NSW Rugby have been made redundant and more than a quarter of the organisation's staff let go as part of cuts that, according to chief executive Paul Doorn, had to be made for the business to survive.
NSW Rugby will announced Tuesday that 15 full-time staff, equating to 27 per cent of the workforce, will be let go in the coming weeks as the organisation tries to reduce its overall cost base by $7 million over the next 12 months to "protect the long-term financial viability of rugby" in NSW.
When COVID-19 forced the cancellation of Super Rugby in March, 70 per cent of NSW Rugby staff were stood down for three months. While some will return on July 1, most will be on reduced salaries of about 50 per cent to 60 per cent of their normal wage.
However, the news that its 12 development officers, who are based all around the state, are set to be moved on will be viewed as a major blow to the grassroots game.
NSW Rugby said it would centralise its community rugby operations and that areas across the state won't be neglected but, clearly, things won't be the same.
"Just because we have to cut 12 development officers, we will continue to provide support to community rugby," Doorn told the Herald. "Competitions will still be running, we will still be doing everything we do around refereeing, coach education, sevens development and pathways for players and coaches and officials.
"It’s really unfortunate we’re having to let go our development officers but we also look forward to the time on the other side when we start to rebuild. Tough decisions today but that doesn’t mean this is where our business stays forever. The savings out of the professional game are probably twice that of the community game because we can’t cut players or staff because we’re committed to the [Super Rugby AU] competition.
"Our priority has been to survive. There is no point putting your head in the sand and go forward and just continue to spend what you’ve always done. We need to learn to live within our means."
Players across Australia have sacrificed 60 per cent of their salaries from April to September and are set to cop even more of a hit in the final three months of 2020.
Despite further discussions between Rugby Australia and the Rugby Union Players Association on Monday, there was no resolution on what kind of pay cut players will be asked to take from October to December. The Super Rugby AU season starts in less than four days.
Waratahs coaching and backroom staff have taken significant pay cuts but none have been made redundant in the latest cuts.
Doorn has taken an extra 10 per cent pay cut. His salary is 60 per cent of what it normally is.
There will be a hiring freeze and no contract talks until RA can sort out a broadcast deal for next season. The Waratahs budget will take a major hit, with the belt being tightened in a number of areas, including the sports science and sports medicine department.
Doorn said the uncertainty was hurting all involved.
"Conversations between Rugby Australia and other parties like New Zealand Rugby continue and that’s good. From my perspective, we’re just trying to get that wrapped up as soon as we possibly can," he said. "It’s the uncertainty in our world that is causing grief and that is felt through the business ... certainly from the players' perspective but also from our major sponsors and members.
"It’s great we’re playing this year but what does it mean for next year and beyond? That’s the million-dollar question."