Rugby Australia (RA) has laid off a third of its full-time staff as well as dozens of contractors and casual workers as part of restructuring efforts to alleviate the financial pressures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Today the organisation has announced a program of cuts that will result in the departure of 47 of its 142 full-time staff over the coming months," RA said in a statement on Monday.

"A further 30 contractors and casual workers have also had their roles terminated with immediate effect."
RA said it would ask remaining senior staff to take a 5% reduction in base salary effective from their return date.

The cuts would reduce RA's annual wage bill by A$5.5 million, the governing body said.

"This is a difficult time for a lot of very passionate, hard-working rugby people and we are committed to helping those people find their next opportunity, whether it be within the game or elsewhere," RA interim CEO Clarke said.

About 75% of RA staff were furloughed in March, with the remainder taking 30% pay-cuts after the suspension of the Super Rugby season after seven rounds.

Australia's professional players also agreed to an average 60% pay-cut through to 30 September, though their pay may be renegotiated with the return of rugby in the form of a domestic tournament slated for July-September.

Clarke flagged further cuts at provincial level as RA looks for "further opportunities for savings and efficiencies" in the delivery of rugby programs across the country.

The announcement follows RA's confirmation on Sunday that it had signed off on its 2019 accounts and submitted them to the Australian regulator following a two-month delay due to concerns over the future viability of the business.

RA's unaudited accounts had reported a provisional A$9.4 million operating deficit for 2019.

RA is now on a better financial footing, having secured a $9 million lifeline from the game's global governing body World Rugby last month.

Meanwhile, Argentina's rugby union (UAR) has encouraged Jaguares players to take deals overseas amid an uncertain outlook for Super Rugby due to the coronavirus pandemic, centre Jeronimo de la Fuente told ESPN.

Jeronimo de la Fuente

Super Rugby has been suspended since March and the future of this year's competition remains in doubt due to travel curbs and border controls.

"The UAR ... told us that if (a player) had an offer in the future, to take it to ease the economic issue a little," De La Fuente said.

"They told us that if we had any possibility of emigrating that we take it and that the UAR was going to be predisposed to help us to be able to travel.

"Not that the UAR is going to let all its players go.

"It will try to retain a base so that professional rugby remains in place, competing, and basically so that there's some competition within the country where they can take Jaguares, Ceibos or Argentina XV."

Super Rugby's governing body SANZAAR has yet to officially abandon the 2020 season, which was suspended after seven rounds.

However, the Tokyo-based Sunwolves, Japan's sole team, confirmed their exit from the competition on Monday after a bid to play in Australia's domestic "Super Rugby AU" tournament fell through.

New Zealand will also welcome the return of rugby next week with a domestic competition featuring their five Super Rugby teams to generate much-needed revenue.

The Jaguares, Super Rugby's only Argentine team and runners-up in the competition last year, have fewer opportunities on the home front where the sport remains mostly amateur.

UAR President Marcelo Rodriguez said he was "optimistic" about the Jaguares despite COVID-19's challenges.

"We are sure that in one way or another Jaguares will be put in a competition that is economically and financially sustainable for the UAR," he told ESPN.