MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Governing body Rugby Australia (RA) said on Monday it was unable to guarantee that Australia would retain four teams in the Super Rugby competition in the long-term as the domestic game battles for its survival during the coronavirus pandemic.

Super Rugby, which involves teams from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina and Japan, was suspended earlier this month after the competition became untenable due to flight restrictions and border controls aimed at containing COVID-19 – the illness caused by the new coronavirus.

“At the moment we have got contracts in place around delivering a Super Rugby structure with four Super Rugby teams and that’s the model that we will be working to,” RA Chief Executive Raelene Castle told reporters in a conference call on Monday after the governing body’s annual general meeting.

“But it would be crazy for us not to be thinking about other scenarios that might roll out.”

Castle said it was also increasingly unlikely that Australia would be able to host Ireland in a two-test series and play Fiji during the international window in July due to complications involving the coronavirus, dealing a further blow to the administration’s finances.

She added that she had taken a 50% pay-cut to her RA salary and the rest of the RA executive team were taking 30% cuts to reduce the administration’s costs.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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