Alan Jones has torn shreds off Raelene Castle and her fellow Rugby Australia administrators after the code’s $120 million financial crisis came to light.
Rugby Australia announced a financial loss of $9.4 million for 2019 and has subsequently stood down 75 per cent of its staff for three months and slashed salaries to combat COVID-19.
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Chief executive officer Castle is taking a 50 per cent pay cut and foreshadowed more cuts in other areas as the code braces for a potential $120 million hit.
The COVID-19 pandemic has robbed RA of ongoing match day and broadcast revenue, causing further financial heartache after legal costs and the settlement of the Israel Folau saga.
But according to Jones, they only have themselves to blame.
The former Wallabies coach and outspoken commentator savaged the code’s ‘selfish and arrogant’ administrators in a column for The Australian on Friday.
“(Chairman Paul) McLean and Castle, and the board of Rugby Australia, cannot blame their financial mismanagement on a virus that had no impact on the 2019 financial figures,” Jones wrote.
“On top of this, Castle indicated she will take a 50 per cent pay cut, but then stood down 100 of her fellow Rugby Australia staff members. That is, I suppose, her definition of fairness and equitability.
“Castle will now take home more than $400,000 a year and most of her colleagues will take home nothing for three months.
“But that has been the working model of this administration. For months and months they have taken everything they could get their hands on and the rugby family have had to go without.”
Jones also described Castle as “running around like a headless choke” and said the Federal Government shouldn’t have to help RA out of their mess.
Castle says staff will be offered government help
On Wednesday Castle said she'll ensure staff stood down would have access to “whatever government support is available” and that talks with RUPA were ongoing to reach an “appropriate” agreement on player salary reductions.
About 100 of the estimated 140-strong RA workforce have been stood down from Wednesday until May 1, when they would return if Super Rugby resumes and July's Test program against Ireland and Fiji is given the green light.
Australia's Super Rugby clubs in Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne hope to lean on the government's recently-announced JobKeeper scheme or any other available benefits as they scale back their operational costs and staff levels in a similar manner.
Castle said additional help from World Rugby and individual state governments would also ensure grassroots rugby could continue once it is safe to return to the field.
“Today we have had to deliver the hardest news imaginable to our incredible, hard-working and passionate staff, that many of them will be stood down for a three-month period so that the game can survive this unprecedented crisis,” she said.
“We could lose up to $120 million in revenue should it not be possible for any rugby to be played in 2020.
“Of course, that is the worst case scenario, and we are very hopeful that we can recommence the Super Rugby season and domestic Wallabies Test matches at some point this year.
“The measures we will implement from April 1, although extremely painful, are necessary to ensure the sport remains financially viable and to ensure that we are able to come out the other side of this global crisis, fully-operational and ready to throw everything into the rebuild.”