Rugby Australia has stood down 75 per cent of its workforce and is to impose salary reductions on its Wallabies after forecasting losses of up £60million because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Three-quarters of the governing body’s staff will not be working for the next three months from April 1 and those remaining have been offered significant salary reductions or reduced hours.

Super Rugby has been suspended since round seven, while Rugby Australia has also shelved plans to launch a five-team domestic competition.

RA chief executive Raelene Castle, who has taken a 50 per cent salary reduction, says the cuts will now be extended to the Wallabies.

“We shared with the Rugby Union Players Association the breadth of our cost-cutting including the standing down of 75 per cent of our staff,” Castle said.

“We will work closely with RUPA to reach an agreement which is appropriate given this unprecedented situation.”

RA is projecting a worst-case scenario of up to 120million Australian dollars (£60m) revenue losses should the Super Rugby season and the entire Wallabies domestic Test calendar be cancelled as a result of the virus.

Wallabies star Kurtley Beale is among those who could see their wages cut
Wallabies star Kurtley Beale is among those who could see their wages cut (David Davies/PA)

“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,” Castle said.

“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.

“It is our priority to keep all of our valued team connected and engaged through this period.”

All remaining executive staff across the game other than Castle have taken at least a 30 per cent salary reduction and Rugby Australia board directors have agreed to defer their director’s fees.

British athletes have endorsed the rescheduling of the Tokyo Olympics for the summer of 2021 in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Games will be staged between July 23 and August 8 next year and the Paralympic Games will be between August 24 and September 5 to give organisers maximum preparation time amid the uncertainty caused by the crisis.

Team GB members Bianca Walkden and Adam Gemili were among those to greet the news positively.

Walkden, who won taekwondo bronze at Rio 2016, said: “I’m glad it’s been confirmed so that we can plan and focus on our new training programme.

“Prior to the announcement, I’d already thought it would probably be during a similar time but in 2021, so it’s good to know so quickly.”

The Olympics have been postponed until next year
The Olympics have been postponed until next year (Adam Davy/PA)

Sprinter Gemili is also pleased the Games will remain a summer event after a spring schedule was under initial consideration.

“To have it in the summer makes the most sense because athletes will be fully into their season, they’ll be well raced and in the best shape they can be in,” the 26-year-old told Sky Sports.

“Towards the spring time there aren’t that many races around, you’re just coming off the back of an indoor season and that’s when you get back into a heavy period of training, so to have an Olympic Games there to be at your peak would be so difficult for many athletes.”