LONDON (Reuters) – The Rugby Football Union (RFU) will provide a 7 million-pound ($8.3 million) relief package to community clubs in England during the coronavirus pandemic, the body’s chief executive officer Bill Sweeney said on Wednesday.

The RFU and Wales’ governing body WRU confirmed last week the end of the 2019-20 season for all league, cup and county rugby, with the exception of the English Premiership, due to the pandemic.

“My thoughts and those of all of us at the RFU continue to be with everyone impacted by the difficult and exceptional situation we are all facing, both across the country and within our own rugby union community,” Sweeney said in a statement.

“(We have) agreed to offer a support package directly funded from the RFU worth £7m to provide support for community clubs in England.

“The RFU had budgeted for a loss-making year within a four- year cycle due to the costs of the 2019 RWC campaign and hosting only two home Six Nations games.”

Four Six Nations matches were postponed due to the coronavirus.

“We have modelled three potential scenarios and are working on an assumption based on a medium-term impact with a view to a return to rugby in the autumn,” Sweeney said.

The RFU executive team will be taking pay cuts.

“The RFU executive team will be taking a cut in remuneration in excess of 25%. In addition, combined board fees will be reduced by 75%,” Sweeney said.

(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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