The Rugby Union Show discuss the catastrophic financial implications facing rugby
Last Updated: 06/05/20 5:55pm
England is working on the assumption its Six Nations campaign and quartet of autumn Test matches can be played across October and November as the Rugby Football Union seeks to avoid losses of around £107m during the coronavirus outbreak.
England are due to host New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and Australia in November but these games remain very much in the balance due to likely travel restrictions, with alternative games against northern hemisphere opposition - possibly even an autumn Six Nations - being discussed.
England are also at home to Scotland, Italy and France in the regular Six Nations next February and March, with some concern that restrictions on public attendance of sports events could still be impacting on the potential to house 82,000 spectators.
And while RFU CEO Bill Sweeney said that the RFU's finances were in "pretty good shape", he said they would need government support if all games were cancelled.
Will Greenwood is hoping that this worst case scenario does not happen as it would have a massive impact on the whole of the sport.
"What you have to understand is that we are very different to football," said Will Greenwood on the Rugby Union Show.
"The footfall on match days for Premiership clubs is critical, it's not just the TV broadcast revenue that is key.
"I think it is just under 60 per cent of your match-day revenue comes from your 13,000 people coming and buying you burgers and your shirts.
"So you get the importance of getting these games played but also getting these games played with fans. It just shows the tightrope that is being walked.
"If the RFU needs help then that would be catastrophic for the community game which is funded by the RFU."
While the Top 14 in France and the PRO14 have been scrapped the Premiership is still hoping to restart, but Greenwood says there are many factors to consider.
"Surely the season has to be abandoned - otherwise next season would start so unbelievably late and then what is the knock-on effect in a Lions year?
"But if they did cancel the season, then they would have to pay a huge cheque back to the host broadcaster for games they have not aired.
"Where do you start?"
Harlequins attack coach Nick Evans says that they are still hoping to restart the season but there is no point in planning until a firm exit plan is put in place by the government.
"It is a tough predicament to be in," admitted Evans.
"We are six weeks in now and there are furloughs, we have had pay cuts - there are no games, no gates, no TV money.
"People are questioning membership tickets and season tickets. There is a lot of good going on, some innovative thinking about what we do when we do get the green light because we are still hoping to get the green light.
"The tough thing is that if it does happen, we have got players on contracts which will be ending, so what happens to them. Do they carry on, do their contracts get extended?
"I don't know the answers, I am in the dark as much as everybody else in terms of what is happening.
"Until we get a more concrete exit plan then we can start planning but until then it's just wait and see."
Ireland have already announced a five-stage exit-plan from the lockdown but Luke Fitzgerald is not sure what impact that will have on rugby there.
"There are a lot of peoples livelihoods at stake - there has been a pay cut across the board which will have an impact across the game.
"There is a five stage government plan in place and rugby and boxing will be able to recommence on 10th of August.
"I just feel that it is very difficult to say at what level. They have come out with some guidelines from the chief medical officer.
"These things are very much in the unknown space - it could be they could just go back training on the 10th.
"I can't see how you can have that many people in a stadium without a vaccine and without very strict testing protocols. Particularly for players who will be coming into very close contact with each other - you would have to turn those tests around very close to the game and very quickly before anyone would feel safe going onto the pitch.
"There are a lot of real issues and no answers."