The Irish Rugby Football Union is to make €500,000 available to its clubs in light of the Covid-19 crisis, the governing body announced on Tuesday evening.
The announcement came four days after the IRFU, Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster announced pay deferrals for its contracted players, coaches and other employees of between 15 and 50 per cent in the wake of the postponement of professional rugby competitions.
The domestic rugby season, though, was brought to an immediate end last Thursday and this latest measure is to assist clubs affected by the associated loss of bar and hospitality revenue and other revenue streams
The Union agreed to the funding measure following a review of its financial position, and said IRFU Domestic Game Director Colin McEntee will be advising clubs how the fund is to be applied as soon as is practicable.
Clubs have been informed of the availability of funding and given additional guidance and advice in relation to the on-going operation of their clubs during what the IRFU described as “this unprecedented crisis”.
The IRFU also announced it has put in place a moratorium on all club loan repayments for four months from April 1 to benefit the 56 clubs with payments outstanding to a value of over €150,000 during this period.
It has also made loans in excess of €4 million available to clubs under its current Financial Assistance Scheme.
“The IRFU encourages all of its clubs to draw on any government assistance available to them. There are a range of support schemes for organisations impacted financially from coronavirus.”
Its communication to clubs also outlined the type of Government support schemes provided by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation for COVID-19 impacted businesses including its Credit Guarantee Scheme, loans for microenterprises, €200m SBCI COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme, a €200m Package for Enterprise Supports and advice for engaging with revenue, checking insurance covert, talking to bank and taking immediate steps to manage cashflows.
Scottish Rugby launched a similar funding support initiative on March 15 with a £500,000 (€546,000) Club Hardship Fund offer financial assistance to grassroots clubs during the pandemic and the IRFU’s announcement came on the same day as World Rugby heralded a unified commitment among national unions, international competitions and players to safeguarding the health of the rugby community and the public, combatting the spread of COVID-19 and collaborating to mitigate the impact of the ongoing pandemic.
World Rugby’s measures include detailed financial risk assessment and modelling and examining opportunities to optimise the rugby calendar and its value for all across the international and club environments when it is safe and appropriate to resume rugby activities.
"These are very difficult and entirely unprecedented times for society and sport,” World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said. “Our primary and immediate responsibility is to ensure the health and well-being of the global rugby community and to collectively support those in need.
"Solidarity is one of the foundations of rugby’s character-building values, and there has never been a time when our sense of solidarity, respect and friendship has been more important. At this crucial moment it was reassuring to see all parties unified through shared purpose in this initial exploratory discussion.
"The latest projections are that the impact of COVID-19 on public and sporting activities could extend for many more weeks, maybe months, and this productive meeting was an important and unified step towards tackling a global problem together in the best interests of all stakeholders.”
Beaumont added that World Rugby was also “intensively examining potential scenario planning” for the scheduled July internationals, “should such a plan be required”. Ireland are due to play a two-Test series with Wallabies in Australia with games in Brisbane on July 4 and Sydney on July 11.