World Rugby announces $100 million relief fund amid coronavirus crisis

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 13, 2019 US players react during the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between the United States and Tonga at the Hanazono Rugby Stadium in Higashiosaka. USA Rugby, its financial troubles exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, has filed for bankruptcy, the federation said on March 30, 2020. / AFP / Filippo MONTEFORTE
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World Rugby has created a relief fund of approximately $100 million (Dh367m) to assist unions around the world as they grapple with the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the sport's global governing body said on Thursday.

With fixtures either postponed or cancelled, the body said the fund would be available for rugby unions that are in need of "immediate emergency funding" as long as certain criteria are met.

Meanwhile, the unions of the Six Nations and South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina Rugby (Sanzaar) will receive a financial package that involves a "combination of advances and loans".

"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," World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said.

"The measures announced today will provide support and short-term relief ... while we are making excellent progress towards calendar options that reflect and address a dynamic, complex and uncertain environment."

Beaumont said they were in discussions with Six Nations, Sanzaar and the global International Rugby Players union to draw up plans for a return to rugby once governments and health authorities give the green light to resume competition.

The body said they were also planning for contingencies if cross-hemisphere travel is not possible, with a worst-case scenario being no more international rugby being played this year.

World Cup runners-up England were set to travel to Japan in July and also host New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and Tonga in November.

"I have chaired many productive meetings in recent weeks with my union, region, competition and player colleagues and we are moving rapidly towards a viable calendar solution," Beaumont added.

"While compromises are being made, the outcome will be in the best interests of the whole game."