Rugby

Rugby Canada cancels player payments due to virus, will require financial assistance

Citing financial pressures due to the global pandemic, Rugby Canada has cancelled "training support payments" for its centralized men's and women's players as of May 1.

Governing body to seek additional funding from World Rugby later in fiscal year

Team Canada's Ghislaine Landry, right, seen during a match against Team England in 2017. Rugby Canada has cut player payments effective May 1 citing financial difficulty tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)

Citing financial pressures due to the global pandemic, Rugby Canada has cancelled "training support payments" for its centralized men's and women's players as of May 1.

The players get a monthly stipend from Sport Canada. The Rugby Canada money served as a top-up, to help pay for expenses and other costs.

The reduction in player support was not unexpected.

"We're going to take a financial hit, which is tough because we're basically living on $20,000 a year," Canadian women's sevens captain Ghislaine Landry said last month. "Our pay is less than what the government is offering as financial support to people who have lost their jobs [due to the pandemic]."

Rugby Canada staff have accepted a temporary wage reduction of between 10 to 15 per cent.

Rugby Canada said a combination of cutting expenses plus government support in the form of the Canada emergency wage subsidy and revenue from the HSBC Canada Sevens, which took place before the COVID-19 lockdown, had lessened the immediate financial impact of the pandemic.

As such Rugby Canada is ineligible for World Rugby's Stage 1 emergency funding for the period of mid-April through May 31. But the Canadian governing body said additional funding from World Rugby will be required later in the fiscal year.

"With the help of our commercial and funding partners, we have been able to weather the early storm," Rugby Canada chair Tim Powers said in a statement.

"However, the restrictions associated with the pandemic will have significant negative implications for the remainder of 2020 in terms of registration, additional sponsorship and event revenues," he added. "The effects of the pandemic are being felt across the country and around the world, and we are prepared to take additional steps, as required, to ensure the financial viability of our union through these unprecedented times."

Rugby Canada has also released its 2018 fiscal statement, its most recent financial picture.

It reported revenue of $16.66 million, up from 16.24 million the previous year. Almost $5 million of that came from World Rugby and Sport Canada.

Expenses were $16.84 million, compared to $16.63 million the previous year. The 2018 fiscal shortfall was $178,610, compared to $389,141 the year before.

More than half of the expenses — $8.8 million — were attributed to national teams.

"The timeline for delivery of the 2018 financial report was not acceptable, and Rugby Canada have completed a challenging transition of staffing and accounting systems over the past two years," Rugby Canada CEO Allen Vansen said in a statement.

The 2019 financial statements are expected to be released later this summer.

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