The Irish Football Rugby Union (IRFU) is "still at significant financial risk" and facing "the most significant financial crisis in [its] history" due to the persisting impact of Covid-19, its annual council meeting has heard.

Honorary treasurer Patrick Kennedy told delegates during Thursday's virtual meeting that Irish rugby is "far from out of the woods", despite the holding of test events with spectators and gradual easing of restrictions.

The key issue remains the absence of fans from provincial grounds and the Aviva Stadium, it heard.

IRFU CEO Philip Browne said that the Six Nations games against France and England in the Aviva being held behind closed doors resulted in a loss of match income of over €16 million.

"These are the games that keep Irish rugby going," he told

In the first six months of the year, the IRFU recorded a 47% reduction in turnover compared to the first half of 2019.

"As in many industries, regrettably we have had job losses and pay cuts across the organisation for the last 12 months while we also eliminated all non-critical overheads," Browne said.

"We understand that Sport Ireland and the Department are discussing, with government, proposals for additional emergency funding for sport. We made a submission to Minister [Jack] Chambers setting out expected further significant cash income losses for the IRFU and Provinces in 2021 arising from Covid-19 restrictions."

He said that without additional government funding this year along with a significant return of fans to stadia, the IRFU would "once again have to review all activities and swiftly implement another round of very unpalatable cost reductions".

Delegates were advised that a full financial update will be issued by the union in November following the presentation of the audited accounts for 2020/21 to the meeting of the IRFU council.