A MESSAGE TO THE RUGBY UNION COMMUNITY IN ENGLAND FROM BILL SWEENEY, CEO RFU

Published: 06/07/2020


My thoughts and those of all of us at the RFU are with everyone impacted by COVID-19, both across the country but also within our own rugby union community.

As you will be aware the long-term financial challenges are significant for the whole economy. We like many rugby clubs rely on revenue from matches and events at Twickenham Stadium and we re-invest this revenue back into the game.

Our detailed scenario modelling shows there may be a short-term impact of £107 million in lost revenues and we also know there will be a much longer-term effect. We are projecting a 4-5 year recovery with cumulative revenue reductions of around 20%.

We are having to make difficult decisions on what we can continue to invest in as well as what is the right size and shape of our business for the future. To ensure we have a sustainable RFU we have announced to colleagues that it is proposed that the total number of roles across the organisation will reduce by 139.

This will be a difficult process, but we will be consulting with colleagues in a fair way to completely remodel our business. This will mean we will need to work very differently in future however, the whole organisation will be focussed on our priorities which are:

• Supporting the community game and our member clubs – which are the life blood of our game.

• Maintaining our ability to compete and win in the performance arena.

• Delivering on our purpose of enriching lives, introducing more people and more diversity to rugby union while developing the sport for future generations.

The consultation process with colleagues will enable them to share their views and ideas on re-shaping the business ahead of any decisions being announced at the end of August.

We have already made some significant cost savings. We furloughed 60% of our organisation; implemented a three month pay reduction which has been extended for some; introduced pension pauses; and refined business planning and introduced stadium and office running efficiencies to reduce costs.

Unfortunately, this is not enough to run a sustainable operation and safeguard our future. We need to maintain our organisation for the long term, this is not a short-term cost reduction exercise, the RFU will still stand, but the impact of Covid19 will continue to affect us for many years to come.

These are difficult times for us all but despite the adversity, I have been truly heartened by the spirit of rugby – seeing everyone pull together to help their local community and those most in need. This film is a brief reminder of what we are all missing.

Thank you for everything you are doing to reflect the best of our game and be assured we are committed to continue supporting you.

With regards,

Bill Sweeney

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