Michael Hooper celebrates a Wallabies victory. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Michael Hooper celebrates a Wallabies victory. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Incredible bonus in Rugby Australia’s massive loan

Rugby Australia won't have to repay the sport's world governing body the entire multimillion-dollar loan it's expected to receive within the next few weeks, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.

The details are still being finalised with a formal announcement coming within days but the terms for the financial bailout are even better than RA could have dreamt of.

Instead of a straight out loan, World Rugby is planning to give struggling member nations an advance payment on their share of the profits from the next World Cup, to be held in France in 2023.

"Once approved, funding can be available within two weeks," World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper told The Daily Telegraph.

"It is a mix of advances on Rugby World Cup 2023 earnings with no pay back requirement and loans."

RA's slice of the pie from 2023 - which is forecast to be the profitable Rugby World Cup ever - will depend on how far the Wallabies go in the tournament but if it doesn't cover the entire cash advance, RA won't have to pay the balance until after the tournament, giving it much-needed breathing space to get its house in order.

"We are working with the unions to ensure the most supportive environment, but we anticipate that all repayments, if necessary, will be made by the end of 2023," Gosper confirmed.

That's the best news RA has heard in a long time and will provide fresh hope that whoever replaces Raelene Castle as chief executive will be able to navigate a way out of the financial mess the game is facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of Castle's last acts before she quit on Thursday night after realising she had lost the support of the board of directors was to help broker a deal with RUPA that saw Australia's 192 players accept an average pay cut of 60 per cent for the next six months.

That will slash RA's salary bill until the end of September from $15.9 million to $2.6 million while the loan from World Rugby will provide a much needed injection of money to keep the game afloat before matches resume and the RA board can finally sort out a broadcast deal for 2021-25.

World Rugby is providing a total relief fund of $160 million pool for member countries in need of financial help with applications to be reviewed by a committee, which will include an independent chairman, four World Rugby managers and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

But while it's been speculated RA could receive a loan of up to $16 million, Gosper said the exact amount had not been determined because it would depend on how much other member countries applied for.

"This is an approach for the global game and therefore we are working with our unions and regional associations relating to their specific requirements, but it would be inappropriate to talk about individual unions - it is rightly a matter for them," he said.

"All requests will be independently considered and approved within the limits of that total context.

"It is important that there is an objective and equitable approach and that the funds are used to support areas specifically impacted by COVID-19.

"Clearly, each union will have different requirements and we will listen to and evaluate those requirements. The fundamental principle of this package is to ensure the strongest possible operational continuity of each union during this unprecedented time."

Originally published as Incredible bonus in Rugby Australia's massive loan