Was I too Pessimistic? – I fear not – The Guardian has seen a copy of the RFU review of its financial standing and the consequences.
According to Paul Rees (1 August 2020) the news could scarcely be worse for women’s rugby. The proposal is that only 30 contracts will be renewed – as against the previous 45 – covering both the 15s and the 7s squads. It is likely that the second group will be worse affected. The size of the contracts to be reduced by at least 25%. The current contracts expire at the end of this month.
Many of the players are furloughed and must wait till then for a final decision to be made.
So my pessimistic forecasts of the future of women’s rugby appear to be justified.
The RFU is in a financial pickle. Its latest estimate of losses amounts to £107 million.
Its cost-cutting programme goes much further. The community game would suffer enormously with a 30% reduction in funding and 254 development officers around the country cut to 130.
That will cause widespread heart-searching.
The totally unexpected arrival of a pandemic has revealed the shaky foundations of the professional game. Everything depends on the continued success of the England Men’s XV to fill the seats at Twickenham and thereby fill the RFU’s coffers. Professional rugby for women still hangs by a thread. Somehow it needs to increase its following so that it can prove its worth and increase its financial backing.
A brave experiment has taken a grievous blow.