New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has offered to bail out the country's Super Rugby franchises with an injection of $1.25 million over the next three months - as the organisation continues to battle with the game's unprecedented shutdown.
NZR chief Executive Mark Robinson said in a statement that an emergency grant of $250,000 each is to be made available to the five Super Rugby clubs for the next three months "which is seen as a critical supplement to other financing options or levers being considered by the clubs".
"Super Rugby is a vital part of our rugby eco-system and has a solid 25-year track record as a strong and admired rugby competition that has valuable intellectual property and a legacy of world class rugby," Robinson said.
"These decisions are about protecting the core capability of the Super Rugby clubs so that they are ready to hit the ground running if Super Rugby resumes later this year, and also be in a position to revive and participate in Super Rugby in whatever shape it takes in 2021 and beyond."
The announcement follows the earlier revelation that NZR projects a $100m revenue loss over the next 18 months due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Robinson told the Herald NZR had issued sweeping 40 per cent wage cuts across the organisation for the next three months - after Rugby Australia on Tuesday stood down 75 per cent of its staff.
Robinson also added that funding for New Zealand's provincial rugby unions would continue.
"Provincial unions receive approximately $30m in funding per annum, and all will receive their funding payment in full for quarter 2. However given the challenging circumstances with Covid-19, beyond this time we will keep a watching brief as things develop.
"Super Rugby clubs normally earn all their revenue through commercial and gate activities. All clubs are doing a range of things to keep their organisations viable through this challenging time.
"In addition, just like NZR, Super Rugby clubs have also made necessary changes because of the Covid-19 crisis, including budget cuts and staffing changes. The emergency grant is necessary so that Super Rugby clubs can survive and be ready to grow their revenue once we are through the pandemic."
According to Robinson NZR would be investigating the structure of all domestic competitions in 2020 once rugby re-starts, through a working group of representatives from provincial unions, Super Rugby clubs, the New Zealand Rugby Players Association, commercial partners, NZR and other key stakeholders.
"The working group will be looking at developing the best possible rugby for players, fans and stakeholders for 2020 and it is a hugely positive signal for the game that stakeholders are coming together to do what is in the best interests for rugby."