Categories
Rugby

Coronavirus: Super League bosses agree to pay cuts

Super League chief executive Robert Elstone is to take a 40 per cent pay cut.

Other Super League executives will take a 30 per cent cut as the sport reacts to the financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Like all sports, rugby league is currently suspended due to the outbreak and the financial implications for the sport are likely to be serious.

The 12 Super League clubs are likely to take advantage of the furloughing initiative, in which the UK government will pay 80 per cent of salaries up to £2,500 a month.

Elstone said last week: “I think every club and Super League is looking very closely at how that allows us to get through this situation.

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Rugby

Newcastle Falcons to be promoted to Premiership to replace relegated Saracens as RFU unveil ‘best playing record formula’

Newcastle Falcons will be promoted to the Premiership next season after the Rugby Football Union confirmed a “best playing record formula” will be used to determine all promotions and relegations across the country below the top tier.

The RFU will use the average points per home game and average points per away game for results up to 14 March and apply them to the remaining fixtures, with Newcastle’s 100 per cent record in the Championship guaranteeing them top spot and an immediate return to the Premiership.

With Saracens being relegated to the Championship next season – a move that will still go through following their salary cap breach – Newcastle will take their place in the top-flight, providing they pass the Minimum Standards Criteria required to play in the Premiership set by the RFU’s Professional Game Board.

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There is also a concern that the financial implications caused by the coronavirus crisis over the coming months could significantly impact Newcastle’s immediate future. As a result the RFU are yet to officially confirm that the Kingston Park outfit will go up even though they will finish top of the second tier, with the club needing to pass the Minimum Standards Criteria first.

Speaking on a conference call on Thursday, RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney confirmed: “When the game stopped on 14 March, 80 per cent of the games had been played and we felt that the most fair and reasonable way to approach this was to apply a simple formula in terms of home record and away record, apply that to the balance of games outstanding and then announce promotion and relegation. 

“We did consult the game; the overwhelming response was that they had a preference to go that route.”

It is understood that Ealing Trailfinders have no intention to follow up on any legal action after director of rugby Ben Ward admitted the west-London club had received counsel on whether they had a case or not, with all parties satisfied with how the promotion picture will play out.

With final tables due to be published on Friday, the RFU also confirmed that Yorkshire Carnegie will be relegated from the Championship, though director of rugby Phil Davies welcomed the development given the club have picked up just two points in a winless season and looked destined for the drop to National One regardless of the premature finish to the season.

“Unfortunately, relegation was inevitable given the results we had suffered this season but I do think it is a shame for the lads who gave so much this season that they have not had the chance to finish off the campaign,” Davies said in a statement. “I can only talk about since the turn of the year but I have seen how much hard work these lads have put in on a part time basis and there were shoots of recovery coming; it would have been great for them to get a win but obviously events for all of us have taken an unprecedented turn.

“Playing in National One next season offers us an opportunity to rebuild the club, reset our culture and principles and set the values we want to instil. We want to re-engage with the universities in our city, the general public and business’ in Leeds and find a new way to forge for the people of Leeds a Rugby Union club they can be proud of again.”


Coronavirus culture from rooftops, windows and balconies





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It has also been confirmed that the Tyrrells Premier 15s will be ruled void due to the absence of promotion and relegation, meaning that Saracens Women miss out on the title despite holding a two-point lead over Harlequins Women with six rounds remaining in the 2019/20 season.

RFU President, Peter Wheeler, said: “We believe that the decisions made provide fair and balanced outcomes for the game and maintain the integrity of the competitions.  We have listened to recommendations from the heart of the game and the approach has been ratified by the RFU Council.

“This has been a difficult decision to make in the most unprecedented of circumstances. There is no single solution that will suit every club, but the approach taken is one that we believe best reflects the nature of league rugby in England.

“With 80 per cent of the season complete for the community game, we believe our approach is fair and the right one for our leagues. We have clubs that are clear league leaders and those who have said they would benefit from relegation to play more meaningful rugby.”

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Eddie Jones signs new contract to lead England into 2023 Rugby World Cup

Eddie Jones will lead England into the next Rugby World Cup after signing a new two-year contract extension.

The 60-year-old will coach the national team at a second consecutive World Cup in France in 2023, having extended his current deal to put lingering doubt over his position to bed. The Australian was previously contracted until the end of next season, and had been non-committal on whether he would remain in charge beyond the summer of 2021.

But with the Rugby Football Union currently handling the coronavirus crisis and the effect that it is having on the English game, they have put an end to the uncertainty surrounding Jones by committing him to a new deal, which should he see out will make him the longest-serving England coach in history surpassing Sir Clive Woodward.

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“The extension is a great honour for me, but in the current environment, it is only right to acknowledge what a difficult time the world is facing,” Jones said on Thursday.

“We are all looking forward to a time when we can get back to playing rugby and use the sport as a force for good in bringing people back together. I never thought coming here four years ago I would be doing a second four years but the circumstances are right. Obviously it is important for the team that we keep improving and my focus will be solely on that.”

Jones will look to go one better in 2023 after leading England to the World Cup final last year in Japan, only to come unstuck against South Africa in a disappointing final performance. That rebuilding project was halted this winter when England’s final Six Nations match against Italy was postponed due to the outbreak of Covid-19, but once rugby resumes in the near future, Jones will continue with his attempts to build “the greatest team the sport has seen”, as he has previously claimed.

“I am excited about raising the standards again,” Jones added. “We have a great team. We set out four years ago to be the best team in the world and unfortunately we missed that by 80 minutes.

“Now we want to be the team that is remembered as being the greatest team the game has ever seen. It’s a big ambition but I believe we are capable of doing it. We have players with an enhanced reputation, we have a team that is expected to do well, so it’s a great opportunity for us to keep moving forward.”

The RFU’s chief executive Bill Sweeney revealed that a verbal agreement to extend Jones’s contract was agreed immediately after the World Cup, but the desire to announce it at the end of the Six Nations was delayed by the coronavirus crisis.

“We reached an understanding soon after returning from Japan but there were some things that we wanted to make sure worked for both sides,” said Sweeney.


Rugby in 2019 – in pictures





1/99 1. Saracens vs Sale – 4 Jan

2/99 2. Exeter vs Bristol – 5 Jan

3/99 3. Saracens vs Glasgow – 19 Jan

4/99 4. Ireland vs England – 2 Feb

5/99 5. England vs France – 10 Feb

6/99 6. Wales vs England – 23 Feb

7/99 7. Scotland vs Wales – 9 March

8/99 8. Wales vs Ireland – 16 March

9/99 9. England vs Scotland – 16 March

10/99 10. England Women vs Scotland Women – 16 March

11/99 11. Leinster vs Ulster – 30 March

12/99 12. Saracens vs Munster – 20 April

13/99 13. Saracens vs Leinster – 11 May

14/99 14. Saracens vs Exeter 1 June

15/99 15. England Women vs New Zealand Women 14 July

16/99 16. England Women vs New Zealand Women – 14 July

17/99 17. South Africa vs Australia – 20 July

18/99 18. New Zealand vs South Africa – 27 July

19/99 19. Australia vs New Zealand – 10 August

20/99 20. Argentina vs South Africa – 10 August

21/99 21. New Zealand vs Australia – 17 August

22/99 22. England vs Ireland – 24 August

23/99 23. RWC opening ceremony – 20 October

24/99 24. RWC Japan vs Russia – 20 September

25/99 25. RWC Japan-fans – 20 September

26/99 26. RWC Australia vs Fiji – 21 September

27/99 27. RWC New Zealand vs South Africa – 21 September

28/99 28. RWC Ireland vs Scotland – 21 September

29/99 29. RWC England vs Tonga – 22 September

30/99 30. RWC Wales vs Georgia – 23 September

31/99 31. RWC Fiji vs Uruguay – 25 September

32/99 32. RWC Fiji vs Uruguay – 25 September

33/99 33. RWC England vs USA – 26 September

34/99 34. RWC Japan vs Ireland – 28 September

35/99 35. RWC Japan vs Ireland – 28 September

36/99 36. RWC Australia vs Wales – 29 September

37/99 37. RWC Scotland vs Samoa – 30 September

38/99 38. RWC New Zealand vs Canada – 2 October

39/99 39. RWC England vs Argentina – 5 October

40/99 40. RWC England vs Argentina – 5 October

41/99 41. RWC Japan vs Samoa – 5 October

42/99 42. RWC New Zealand vs Namibia – 6 October

43/99 43. RWC France vs Tonga – 6 October

44/99 44. RWC Scotland vs Russia – 9 October

45/99 45. RWC Wales vs Fiji – 9 October

46/99 46. RWC Typhoon Hagibis – 10 October

47/99 47. RWC Typhoon Hagibis – 10 October

48/99 48. RWC Typhoon Hagibis – 10 October

49/99 49. RWC Japan vs Scotland – 13 October

50/99 50. RWC Japan vs Scotland – 13 October

51/99 51. RWC Japan vs Scotland – 13 October

52/99 52. RWC Japan vs Scotland – 13 October

53/99 53. RWC England vs Australia – 19 October

54/99 54. RWC England vs Australia – 19 October

55/99 55. RWC England vs Australia – 19 October

56/99 56. RWC New Zealand vs Ireland – 19 October

57/99 57. RWC New Zealand vs Ireland – 19 October

58/99 58. RWC Wales vs France – 20 October

59/99 59. RWC Wales vs France – 20 October

60/99 60. RWC Wales vs France – 20 October

61/99 61. RWC Japan vs South Africa – 20 October

62/99 62. RWC Japan vs South Africa – 20 October

63/99 63. RWC Japan vs South Africa -20 October

64/99 64. RWC England vs New Zealand – 26 October

65/99 65. RWC England vs New Zealand – 26 October

66/99 66. RWC England vs New Zealand – 26 October

67/99 67. RWC Wales vs South Africa – 27 October

68/99 68. RWC Wales vs South Africa – 27 October

69/99 69. RWC Wales vs South Africa – 27 October

70/99 70. RWC New Zealand vs Wales – 1 November

71/99 71. RWC England vs South Africa – 2 November

72/99 72. RWC England vs South Africa – 2 November

73/99 73. RWC England vs South Africa – 2 November

74/99 74. RWC England vs South Africa – 2 November

75/99 75. RWC England vs South Africa – 2 November

76/99 76. RWC England vs South Africa – 4 November

77/99 77. Michael Cheika

78/99 78. Steve Hansen

79/99 79. Ian Foster

80/99 80. Premiership begins – 18 October

81/99 81. Bristol vs Bath – 18 October

82/99 82. Saracens vs Northampton – 19 October

83/99 83. Bath vs Exeter – 25 October

84/99 84. Saracens scandal – 4 November

85/99 85. Dylan Hartley retires

86/99 86. Gloucester vs Toulouse – 15 November

87/99 87. Exeter vs La Rochelle – 16 November

88/99 88. Barbarians vs Fiji

89/99 89. Warren Gatland – 29 November

90/99 90. Wales vs Barbarians

91/99 91. Racing 92 vs Munster – 23 November

92/99 92. Saracens vs Munster

93/99 93. Northampton vs Leicester – 30 November

94/99 94. Doddie Weir – 15 December

95/99 95. Israel Folau

96/99 96. Leicester Tigers vs Bristol Bears – 21 December

97/99 97. Saracens vs Bristol Bears – 21 December

98/99 98. Bristol Bears vs Wasps

99/99 99. Harlequins vs Leicester Tigers

1/99 1. Saracens vs Sale – 4 Jan

2/99 2. Exeter vs Bristol – 5 Jan

3/99 3. Saracens vs Glasgow – 19 Jan

4/99 4. Ireland vs England – 2 Feb

5/99 5. England vs France – 10 Feb

6/99 6. Wales vs England – 23 Feb

7/99 7. Scotland vs Wales – 9 March

8/99 8. Wales vs Ireland – 16 March

9/99 9. England vs Scotland – 16 March

10/99 10. England Women vs Scotland Women – 16 March

11/99 11. Leinster vs Ulster – 30 March

12/99 12. Saracens vs Munster – 20 April

13/99 13. Saracens vs Leinster – 11 May

14/99 14. Saracens vs Exeter 1 June

15/99 15. England Women vs New Zealand Women 14 July

16/99 16. England Women vs New Zealand Women – 14 July

17/99 17. South Africa vs Australia – 20 July

18/99 18. New Zealand vs South Africa – 27 July

19/99 19. Australia vs New Zealand – 10 August

20/99 20. Argentina vs South Africa – 10 August

21/99 21. New Zealand vs Australia – 17 August

22/99 22. England vs Ireland – 24 August

23/99 23. RWC opening ceremony – 20 October

24/99 24. RWC Japan vs Russia – 20 September

25/99 25. RWC Japan-fans – 20 September

26/99 26. RWC Australia vs Fiji – 21 September

27/99 27. RWC New Zealand vs South Africa – 21 September

28/99 28. RWC Ireland vs Scotland – 21 September

29/99 29. RWC England vs Tonga – 22 September

30/99 30. RWC Wales vs Georgia – 23 September

31/99 31. RWC Fiji vs Uruguay – 25 September

32/99 32. RWC Fiji vs Uruguay – 25 September

33/99 33. RWC England vs USA – 26 September

34/99 34. RWC Japan vs Ireland – 28 September

35/99 35. RWC Japan vs Ireland – 28 September

36/99 36. RWC Australia vs Wales – 29 September

37/99 37. RWC Scotland vs Samoa – 30 September

38/99 38. RWC New Zealand vs Canada – 2 October

39/99 39. RWC England vs Argentina – 5 October

40/99 40. RWC England vs Argentina – 5 October

41/99 41. RWC Japan vs Samoa – 5 October

42/99 42. RWC New Zealand vs Namibia – 6 October

43/99 43. RWC France vs Tonga – 6 October

44/99 44. RWC Scotland vs Russia – 9 October

45/99 45. RWC Wales vs Fiji – 9 October

46/99 46. RWC Typhoon Hagibis – 10 October

47/99 47. RWC Typhoon Hagibis – 10 October

48/99 48. RWC Typhoon Hagibis – 10 October

49/99 49. RWC Japan vs Scotland – 13 October

50/99 50. RWC Japan vs Scotland – 13 October

51/99 51. RWC Japan vs Scotland – 13 October

52/99 52. RWC Japan vs Scotland – 13 October

53/99 53. RWC England vs Australia – 19 October

54/99 54. RWC England vs Australia – 19 October

55/99 55. RWC England vs Australia – 19 October

56/99 56. RWC New Zealand vs Ireland – 19 October

57/99 57. RWC New Zealand vs Ireland – 19 October

58/99 58. RWC Wales vs France – 20 October

59/99 59. RWC Wales vs France – 20 October

60/99 60. RWC Wales vs France – 20 October

61/99 61. RWC Japan vs South Africa – 20 October

62/99 62. RWC Japan vs South Africa – 20 October

63/99 63. RWC Japan vs South Africa -20 October

64/99 64. RWC England vs New Zealand – 26 October

65/99 65. RWC England vs New Zealand – 26 October

66/99 66. RWC England vs New Zealand – 26 October

67/99 67. RWC Wales vs South Africa – 27 October

68/99 68. RWC Wales vs South Africa – 27 October

69/99 69. RWC Wales vs South Africa – 27 October

70/99 70. RWC New Zealand vs Wales – 1 November

71/99 71. RWC England vs South Africa – 2 November

72/99 72. RWC England vs South Africa – 2 November

73/99 73. RWC England vs South Africa – 2 November

74/99 74. RWC England vs South Africa – 2 November

75/99 75. RWC England vs South Africa – 2 November

76/99 76. RWC England vs South Africa – 4 November

77/99 77. Michael Cheika

78/99 78. Steve Hansen

79/99 79. Ian Foster

80/99 80. Premiership begins – 18 October

81/99 81. Bristol vs Bath – 18 October

82/99 82. Saracens vs Northampton – 19 October

83/99 83. Bath vs Exeter – 25 October

84/99 84. Saracens scandal – 4 November

85/99 85. Dylan Hartley retires

86/99 86. Gloucester vs Toulouse – 15 November

87/99 87. Exeter vs La Rochelle – 16 November

88/99 88. Barbarians vs Fiji

89/99 89. Warren Gatland – 29 November

90/99 90. Wales vs Barbarians

91/99 91. Racing 92 vs Munster – 23 November

92/99 92. Saracens vs Munster

93/99 93. Northampton vs Leicester – 30 November

94/99 94. Doddie Weir – 15 December

95/99 95. Israel Folau

96/99 96. Leicester Tigers vs Bristol Bears – 21 December

97/99 97. Saracens vs Bristol Bears – 21 December

98/99 98. Bristol Bears vs Wasps

99/99 99. Harlequins vs Leicester Tigers

“We have announced Eddie’s contract extension a few weeks later than planned as our focus was diverted to support the English rugby community during this difficult time, we are now turning our attention to developing plans to support the rebooting of rugby and a winning England team will provide a vital role in that.

“We are delighted that Eddie will continue as head coach to run England’s campaign to take us to the 2023 Rugby World Cup. His record since joining speaks for itself and he has proven why he is one of the best coaches in world rugby. The progress shown by England since 2015 has been indisputable and having fielded the youngest-ever team to play in a World Cup final, we know even more growth is possible. We are all excited by what this squad can do and having Eddie leading the team is very important to us.”

He added: “My thoughts and those of all of us at the RFU are with everyone impacted by Covid-19, both across the country at large but also within our own rugby union community. In exceptionally difficult times, we are pleased to be sharing some good news.”

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Eddie Jones extends England contract until 2023 to lead side into World Cup

Eddie Jones has penned a new contract with England.

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Greenberg slammed for petty pay cut

Wests Tigers centre Joseph Leilua has condemned NRL CEO Todd Greenberg for sending “mixed messages” to players regarding his pay cut amid the coronavirus epidemic.

The NRL has been desperately looking to cut costs since the 2020 season was postponed last month, a move ARLC Chairman Peter V’landys labelled a “financial catastrophe” for the sport. The Daily Telegraph reported on Monday the NRL had created a $40 million emergency fund lifeline for clubs as part of wider cost-cutting initiatives.

After the Sun Herald reported he would step down as CEO on Sunday, Greenberg told players on Monday during a teleconference he would receive a 25 per cent pay cut, along with his executives. It is believed the NRL boss is on a $1.5 million annual salary.

NRL CEO Todd GreenbergSource:Getty Images

Reporter James Hooper told Fox League the players were “spitting chips” after Greenberg confirmed with the Players’ Association he would continue working with a 25 per cent pay cut, while they would be receiving a significantly larger pay reduction.

“NRL boss Todd Greenberg has been sending mixed messages about whether or not he is in fact going to cop a 25 per cent pay cut or whether he is going to stand down without pay,” Hooper said on Wednesday.

“There are a lot of players blowing up behind the scenes … so many players are spitting chips and steaming.”

In comparison, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan matched the players in copping a 50 per cent pay cut, as did Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle.

Leilua told Fox Sports the disparity between Greenberg and the players “doesn’t seem fair”, claiming other NRL stars feel the same way

“I don’t understand, I thought they said we were all in this together,” Leilua said.

“If the players have to agree to a 75 per cent cut, then why not the executives at headquarters as well.

Wests Tigers star Joseph LeiluaSource:Getty Images

“I’m here for the players, and everyone who I’ve spoken to is asking the same question … I don’t want to talk out of school, but everyone is feeling the same way.

“We’re the players, without us there’s no product.

“We understand it’s tough times everywhere, but this doesn’t seem fair. If we’re all in it together, then we’re all in it together.”

On Sunday it was revealed the NRL had underpaid the players’ retirement fund by $12.5 million. Meanwhile, the NRL spent approximately $180 million during the last financial year on operating costs.

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Wallaby great torches Castle ‘train smash’

Former Wallaby Rod Kafer has savaged Rugby Australia and CEO Raelene Castle after a tumultuous period for the sport, exacerbated by the coronavirus epidemic.

The 2020 Super Rugby season was postponed in March after New Zealand tightened travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and it has been estimated RA will suffer a $120 million loss from match day and broadcast revenue if rugby union does not go ahead this season.

However, the sport’s financial situation was in dire straits well before the virus wreaked havoc – RA announced a loss of $9.4 million for 2019 at its annual general meeting on Monday.

RA reportedly rejected a $20 million-per-year offer from Foxtel for broadcast rights, the proposal being $37 million a year less than the current deal.

The infamous Israel Folau saga also resulted in RA handing over an unconfirmed amount to the disgraced Wallaby in an out-of-court settlement – however, The Daily Telegraph reported in December the sum was approximately $8 million.

The performance of Australian rugby teams has also dwindled significantly – only the ACT Brumbies have shown any resilience in the Super Rugby tournament over the past three years, while the Wallabies suffered an embarrassing quarterfinal exit at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Australia slipped to their lowest position on the World Rugby rankings last year, at one stage slipping below rugby minnows Japan.

Super Rugby crowds have been gradually dropping for several years, average attendance falling to less than 9000 this season, down from nearly 17,000 in 2015. Meanwhile, several high-profile rugby players – including Will Genia, Quade Cooper and Brendon Foley – transferred to overseas rugby leagues for larger contracts.

Rugby Australia CEO Raelene CastleSource:Getty Images

On Tuesday, Castle announced 75 per cent of Rugby Australia’s staff for the next three months. In comparison, New Zealand Rugby’s staff will only cop a 20 per cent pay cut, AAP revealed on Wednesday.

Kafer – who worked for RA in elite coaching development from 2017 to 2019 – labelled the organisation’s management a “train smash” during an explosive interview on Fox Sports News.

“When the CEO comes out and says we’re looking down a $120 million hole — how did we find ourselves in that position? How does a board allow the game to get into that position?” Kafer asked on Wednesday.

“We know rugby was sick a long time before the coronavirus came along … Rugby has been sick for years.

“People have been calling for change and it hasn’t occurred, and yet the same people who have taken it off the cliff are still there, still employed.

“There’s no knowledge about what actually is going on … Everybody has been kept in the dark at the moment.

“Reducing 75 per cent of the staff — is it too much or not enough? Nobody has got any idea.

“And this is in a year in which the Wallabies slipped from sixth to seventh in the world and were tumbled out in the (World Cup) quarterfinals.”

Former Australian rugby player Rod KaferSource:Supplied

The 45-year-old rugby commentator also voiced his confusion regarding RA’s positive self-reflection despite the ongoing chaos. Kafer claimed RA awarded itself a 72 per cent pass mark at their 2019 AGM.

“Spectators are down at all events in every rugby game … Viewer numbers down, a loss of $9.6 million, the Israel Folau debacle and then the board and Raelene Castle saying no to a broadcast deal into the future to secure their revenue in November last year, that was equal to the existing deal that was on the table,” Kafer said.

“Many, many millions of dollars they said no to and still gave themselves a ranking of 72 per cent in their internal ranking.”

Castle revealed she would concede a 50 per cent cap cut to assist financial RA’s financial recuperation during the coronavirus shut down. However, the CEO will still earn $400,000 per year on the revised salary.

Kafer pointed out this sum is still higher than what most professional Australian rugby players earn.

“She’s gone down to $400,000 a year — more than 95 per cent of all players in the game with her salary sacrifice … something’s wrong,” Kafer said.

“It is time for drastic change. The rugby community, the players, everybody who has sat around and watched this train smash over the last few years and has called for change — now is the time to demand change.”

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USA Rugby board votes to file for bankruptcy amid coronavirus crisis

The board of USA Rugby has voted to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy as a result of “insurmountable financial constraints” in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

The governing body suspended sanctioned competition and rugby activities indefinitely on March 20 due to the ongoing global pandemic.

According to the United States Courts website, a case filed under chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code is frequently referred to as a ‘reorganisation’ bankruptcy.

USA Rugby will undergo a restructuring process with input from World Rugby, while the country’s men’s and women’s senior national teams will continue to compete as normal when rugby returns.

The governing body described the decision as the best way to “deliver a foundation for future stability”.

“Following detailed consultation with legal advisers, the USA Rugby board of directors and Congress voted to officially file Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a result of compounded and insurmountable financial constraints,” read a statement.

“The current suspension of sanctioned rugby activities caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the existing financial challenges facing the union, and a reorganisation process will now be progressed with input from World Rugby.

“The USA Rugby board and Congress agree that filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy supported by a robust action plan, is the optimal strategy in these exceptional circumstances. It is the best platform to swiftly and efficiently address challenges and deliver a foundation for future stability.”

The United States’ men’s team, ranked 16th in the world, lost each of their four Pool C matches at last year’s World Cup in Japan, including a 45-7 defeat to finalists England.

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Hadleigh Parkes column: Wales centre on how coronavirus has affected rugby players

In his latest BBC Sport column, Wales and Scarlets centre Hadleigh Parkes reflects on the last couple of weeks as the coronavirus crisis continues to affect every aspect of modern day life.

It is hard to describe just what has happened over the last couple of weeks.

At times like this, the health and safety of the public is far more important than sport. The world is in the middle of a very serious situation.

Like many others, rugby players find themselves trying to adapt to what has become a new normal, but we realise that pales into insignificance when you see what an amazing job the NHS workers are doing.

When you see the place where we usually train with the Scarlets or the ground where we run out to represent Wales being effectively turned into field hospitals, the seriousness of the situation really hits home.

  • Rugby venues help to fight coronavirus
  • Principality Stadium to be used as hospital

It is amazing how communities and businesses have banded together to make sure these venues are suitable and able to cope with whatever happens around the corner.

It is great to see the Scarlets have put something in place with Carmarthenshire Council and it shows a lot of community spirit.

It has been a strange few weeks for everybody. We were getting ready to play Scotland in our final Six Nations game and had just finished the Captain’s Run at the Principality Stadium, which is the final traditional training session a day before a game.

Everybody had got back to the base at the Vale of Glamorgan hotel and we were sitting down and having lunch when team manager Martyn Williams told us the game had been called off.

It was the right decision and people’s health and safety is the most important thing. It was the end to a Six Nations and also to our routine. Nobody really knows how long it will be before this all ends.

There are a lot of rumours going around about potential different scenarios for when rugby might start again, but we are only going to find out more information in the next few weeks.

We are used to being in the team environment and being around a lot of your mates.

It is a bit of a change whatever workforce you are in and it is about trying to adapt and making the most of what is a very serious situation.

  • ‘Contact key to coping with uncertainty’ – Wainwright
  • Health more important than pay – Biggar

People have talked about sports people being uncertain when they are going to play again but for me personally it is not a problem.

Many people are facing much more pressing issues and there are a lot bigger problems about than a game of rugby and when we might be playing in the future.

Rugby players are concerned like any other profession about what the future holds and hopefully the clubs, regions and WRU will come through this across the country.

We are also aware there are a lot of other people who are in difficult situations and hopefully when the day comes when we return to some sort of normality, people will still have their jobs.

Issues about what happens in the future are down to the administrators. As players it is our responsibility to ensure if there are further games down the track, we will be ready to go.

Before the lockdown came into place, the Welsh Rugby Union strength and conditioning department got in touch with everyone on WhatsApp and provided watt bikes and weights bars among other things.

If you wanted that you could go and pick it up. Every individual had a separate allotted time so there was no crossing of paths for safety purposes.

I am sure this has happened in a few households across the country and we have now moved our dining room table into our lounge.

So my wife Suzy and I have a workout area, where we have weights, and we have started a specific 60-day intensive programme.

It involves an intense 40-45 minutes training regime and is not something I am used to – but it is a good time to try something different.

After that it is pretty much relaxing for the rest of the day. We get out for a little walk occasionally if we can, although we have not been out of the house an awful lot.

The other day we were out about 5pm on Cathedral Road in Cardiff, near to where we live. It would normally be packed, bumper-to-bumper traffic but there was nobody on the road and it was quite a surreal feeling.

I am doing a lot of odd jobs around the house that don’t normally get done. There has also been a bit of gardening and Suzy has cleaned the moss off the back of the house.

We are also having some quality family time which is pretty special. We have a new baby, Ruby, who is almost five months now. She started on solids last week and is a bit of a guzzler.

We are also looking at the situation in New Zealand, which is in lockdown for four weeks. If you travel back there it is compulsory to spend two weeks in self-isolation.

Both our families are OK at the moment and there has been a lot of FaceTime with phone calls going back and forward.

  • Lockdown ‘Lock-Off’ rugby quiz
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We had a quiz on the Houseparty app the other night with a lot of different families and have been keeping in contact with friends.

We are also keeping in touch at the Scarlets. We have a team WhatsApp group and within that we have four mini-teams within the region.

We normally have a mini-team Monday when, after the review of the previous weekend’s game, we have an activity your mini-team has to perform. That is still occurring.

Within your mini-team you have to come up with a song and everybody has to be involved.

A couple of the boys within the mini-teams are a bit better at technology and they get sent the videos of the boys singing a couple of lines and put something together.

It is just a bit of banter among the groups and people keeping in touch. But we know that will never disguise the seriousness of the situation.

It is great to see everybody getting behind the NHS, who are doing such a superb job, and the clapping that happened in the street last week was inspirational.

Anybody in the medical profession, whether they are doctors, nurses or pharmacists, or people who are producing food and supplies and caring for the elderly – they are our heroes and should be supported.

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Test yourself in our Ultimate Rugby League Quiz

Got some down time during the lock down?

Reckon you know your rugby league?

Check your knowledge in our Ultimate Rugby League Quiz.

And stay tuned for further instalments.

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Originally published asTest yourself in our Ultimate Rugby League Quiz

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Panthers star’s touching gesture to pay for $100 worth of coffees

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Panthers winger Josh Mansour proved he is one of the game’s true nice guys with a touching gesture at a cafe.

As the country deals with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, Mansour paid $100 for a cup of coffee so the people after him could get one for free.

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Josh Mansour is paying it forward

NRL: Penrith Panthers winger Josh Mansour paid $100 for a cup of coffee so the people after him could get their fix without going into their pockets.

The kind gesture to help people who are struggling financially due to the financial and health crisis affecting Australia was an example of the small ways people can help each other during this time.

A cup of coffee might not seem like much, but those are the little acts of kindness that can make people who are struggling with anxiety in these uncertain times feel that much better.

By lifting the spirits of a few unsuspecting customers, Mansour no doubt made their day and should be commended for his selfless act.

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Originally published asPanthers star’s touching gesture to pay for $100 worth of coffees

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