Bill Beaumont wants to deliver a "stronger, more sustainable game" after he was re-elected for a second term as World Rugby chairman.

The former England captain, 68, achieved a 28-23 majority over fellow candidate Agustin Pichot following the first round of voting in the independent election, meaning he will carry on in the post for a further four years.

France's Bernard Laporte is the new vice-chairman after standing unopposed for the position, while seven new members have been confirmed to the organisation's executive committee.

World Rugby will officially confirm Beaumont's continuation in the role at its annual meeting on May 12, though he is already thinking about the future as rugby union looks to recover from problems caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

A complete shutdown of the sport at club and international level has had financial ramifications for many, with the focus now on a plan for a return to action that still "prioritises player welfare".

"Now is not the time for celebration. We have work to do," Beaumont said in a statement.

"We are tackling COVID-19 and must implement an appropriate return-to-rugby strategy that prioritises player welfare, while optimising any opportunity to return to international rugby this year in full collaboration with club competitions for the good of players, fans and the overall financial health of the sport.

"I am determined to ensure that the spirit of unity and solidarity that has characterised our work in response to an unprecedented global COVID-19 pandemic, is the cornerstone of a new approach that will deliver a stronger, more sustainable game when we emerge with new enthusiasm, a renewed purpose and an exciting future."

Beaumont thanked outgoing vice-chairman Pichot for the Argentinian's contribution to World Rugby over their previous four years of working together.

"While we stood against each other in this campaign, we aligned in many ways, and I have the utmost respect for him," Beaumont said. "Gus is passionate about the sport and his contribution has been significant."

Massive sporting events do not always live up the occasion.

The boxing world was delivered a reminder of that five years ago as a fight a long time in the making proved a drab affair.

It is the unexpected that often produces the most excitement and that was the case during a 2015-16 Premier League campaign that stands as arguably the most memorable in the division's history.

Here we look back at May 2 in the world of sport.

2009: Pacquiao makes light work of Hatton

"From the ends of the earth to the centre of the ring" was the tagline attached to a light-welterweight title bout billed as the' Battle of East and West'.

With seven seconds left in the second round, Ricky Hatton was indeed in the centre of the ring, on his back having been dumped to the canvas by a thunderous left to the chin from Manny Pacquiao.

The fight marked the last at elite level for Hatton, who finished his career in 2012 with a loss to Vyacheslav Senchenko.

Pacquiao has gone on to secure his legacy as one of the greatest boxers of all time, but his journey has not been without its lows, the biggest of which would come six years later at the same MGM Grand Garden Arena venue...

2009: Leinster-Munster semi-final draws record crowd

Leinster v Munster is regarded as one of the biggest provincial rivalries in world rugby, and it reached new heights as the pair met in the Heineken Cup semi-finals at Croke Park.

A crowd of 82,208, a world-record attendance for a club match, witnessed Leinster secure their place in the final with a 25-6 victory.

They would go on to lift the trophy, beating Leicester Tigers 19-16 at Murrayfield.

2012: Messi breaks European club goals record

Lionel Messi's incredible career has been defined by him shattering records and collecting medals at will.

Eight years ago he bettered a mark that had stood since the 1972-73 season with a hat-trick against Malaga.

The treble took Messi to 68 goals for the 2011-12 season, the most by a single player in a European club season.

Gerd Muller had previously held the record with 67. Messi would go on to stretch his advantage over the Germany great, finishing the campaign with a remarkable 73 goals.

2015: 'Fight of the century' fails to inspire

After years of protracted and tempestuous negotiations, Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather finally agreed to touch gloves in the biggest fight of the 21st century.

The contest did not match the hype surrounding it, however, Mayweather maintaining his unbeaten record in uninspiring fashion.

Pacquiao struggled to land punches on a defensive Mayweather, whose tactical acumen won the day in a fight some dubbed 'Better never than late' in the aftermath.

Mayweather followed up that win with a victory over Andre Berto in September, before coming out of retirement in 2017 to defeat UFC star Conor McGregor and improve to 50-0.

2016: Leicester achieve the impossible

The established order of the Premier League was upset in unbelievable fashion in 2015-16 as 5,000-1 outsiders Leicester City, having narrowly avoided relegation the previous season, clinched the title.

Tottenham had been the Foxes' closest challengers in a year where Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal all struggled for consistency, with Liverpool and Chelsea well off the pace.

However, it was Chelsea who ended Tottenham's hopes and ensured the trophy would head to the King Power Stadium.

Spurs needed to win at Stamford Bridge to keep their hopes alive and led 2-0 thanks to goals from Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.

But Gary Cahill pulled one back and Eden Hazard levelled matters seven minutes from time to spark delirious scenes among the Leicester players watching on TV.

France's Top 14 and the second tier, Pro D2, are to be abandoned for the 2019-20 season with no announcement made on whether champions will be crowned.

Meanwhile, quarter-final matches in the European Champions Cup and European Challenge Cup will not be played until September at the earliest.

Both decisions have come after the French government's move to prohibit sport for the next four months amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Clubs have agreed with the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) to end the Top 14 campaign to ensure next season can start on time, with the move expected to be rubber-stamped by the league's steering committee.

Prior to the abandonment of the Top 14, Bordeaux-Begles were eight points clear of Lyon at the summit as they sought a first title since 1991.

The Top 14 regular season is usually followed by play-offs to determine the eventual champions.

Three of the eight teams in the last eight of the Champions Cup play their domestic rugby in France and, similarly, three of those sides still in the Challenge Cup are Top 14 outfits.

The quarter-final ties were due to be played between April 3-5 but had already been postponed along with the semis and the two finals, which were set to be held in Marseille on May 22 and 23.

European Professional Club Rugby still intends to complete the continental competitions. 

With three rounds of action still to play, the delays are likely to impact the start of next season's Champions and Challenge Cups, which are scheduled to start in October.

Dave Rennie remains committed to taking over as Australia head coach despite the departure of CEO Raelene Castle last week.

Castle resigned her role at Rugby Australia after being told she no longer had the support of its board, with chairman Paul McLean later saying concerns over her mental well-being after "abhorrent" social media "bullying" played a part in the board's thinking.

Her departure led to speculation Rennie may reconsider his post, with Castle said to have been an influential factor in his decision to take the Wallabies' top job.

But Rennie, who was reportedly sounded out about replacing Steve Hansen as New Zealand coach, will join up with Australia, though when that might be remains a little unclear as the Glasgow Warriors coach awaits news on whether the Pro14 and European Champions Cup can resume amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"I am really gutted at the decision to move Raelene on," Rennie told reporters. 

"She is a big part of the reason I signed with Australia. I was really impressed by her. She had a real clean plan over what the next few years looked like.

"I am really disappointed. But she exited with dignity and class. I am disappointed with the decision but clearly I want a chat with the board and [to] get clarity over what the plan looks like now.

"I am still very committed and we have been doing a lot of work in and around preparation for when the new season comes around."

Rennie added that he remains in constant contact with RA over when exactly his job can begin, with travel restrictions in place due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

"I've been in constant contact - probably every second day I'm talking to people in Australia," Rennie added. 

"Scott Johnson [RA's director of rugby], who also played a big part in getting me over there, we're talking all the time. 

"We've got a management group that's trying to drive stuff and connect with Super Rugby coaches.

"The relationship with all Super Rugby clubs has been really good and has made a difference. We're all trying to work together to improve the athletes, especially when they're isolated."

Rebels and Australia playmaker Matt Toomua has called for a rethink of an "aged and outdated" Super Rugby format.

Fifteen franchises from five countries compete in the prestigious southern hemisphere tournament.

The versatile Toomua believes a domestic or trans-Tasman competition may be better alternatives and thinks the coronavirus pandemic may speed up a revamp.

He told rugby.com.au: "There's a lot of people who have had this in mind for a while that maybe the model that we've got is a little bit aged and outdated and maybe we need to have a rethink.

"I guess this [pandemic] is almost forcing us to do it, whether it be in the short term until those borders open or whether it be long-term into something else that's a bit more sustainable, bit more domestically focused.

"There's going to be all sorts of pressures on the game next year, whether it be inflation and cost prices for travelling and the current SANZAAR models, the costs are going to go through the roof, so how do [we] respond to that, how do we handle that curve?

"I think there's a lot of people who are wanting to have a domestic model for quite a while now, whether it be Australia-focused or Australia-New Zealand focused or something along those lines."

South African centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg has been fined £32,500 and handed a two-week ban after he was found to have signed contracts with both Sale Sharks and Gloucester.

Van Rensburg was a Lions player when he had a loan spell with Sale in the 2017-18 season, at which point he had already privately agreed to join Gloucester from November 2018.

However, on January 11, 2018 Van Rensburg signed a contract with Sale to play for the Sharks from July 1 of that year, clinching a lucrative three-year deal.

Evidence seen by a Rugby Football Union (RFU) disciplinary panel shows Van Rensburg later sent a WhatsApp message to Gloucester coach Johan Ackermann, in which the player suggests he had "messed up", believing a conversation they had at the turn of the year meant his Gloucester agreement could be broken.

"After we spoke, you said to me not to feel obliged to sign for Gloucester," Van Rensburg wrote. "Sale offered me a deal which I have agreed to. I am very stressed out over this."

Van Rensburg added in his message: "I'm really sorry and disappointed in myself. Their deal was at the time a lot better than Gloucester's deal which made it very attractive to me."

Sale withdrew their initial contract offer to Van Rensburg before he signed again with the Sharks in June 2018.

The RFU said £25,000 of the fine issued to Van Rensburg would be paid to Gloucester, who gave the player that sum when he agreed to join the Premiership club. The dates of his suspension will be announced when rugby, which is on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, is able to continue.

Van Rensburg's representative Matthew Ginvert was reprimanded, fined £3,750 and told to undertake an agent's education programme. There was no evidence of him knowing about the existence of the Gloucester contract.

Sale received a £20,000 fine and a suspended five-point deduction.

Because of COVID-19, the RFU said the disciplinary case was held using video conferencing.

Raelene Castle was subject to "abhorrent" social-media "bullying" from "faceless names" during her time as Rugby Australia (RA) CEO, according to the body's interim chairman Paul McLean.

It was confirmed on Thursday that Castle had resigned from her role following internal and external pressures.

Castle faced criticism for RA's handling of the Israel Folau case and the rejection of an initial broadcast deal from FOX Sports.

RA has also faced financial issues from the coronavirus pandemic, but McLean defended Castle, who he said always worked decisively.

"Criticism is easy, being cynical is easy, but decision making is tough. She was able to do that and do that with some clarity," he said. 

"She would run through broken glass to get things done, and she has done that.

"One of my greatest concerns with Raelene was her welfare and how she was on a daily basis because a lesser person would have thrown the towel in ages ago, quite simply

"So the discussion that we had to have is: What is the succession plan if Raelene walked in or rang me and said 'I'm gone, I can't do this anymore'? So we've had some broader discussions about that for the last six months.

"And I suppose it crystallised with some new eyes around the table, and it probably crystallised given the circumstances we're all faced with from a general economy and how we're living our life at the moment. So that Wednesday evening discussion probably crystallised some thinking that had been happening for six months."

McLean hit out at the outside abuse Castle received and said certain sections of the media were guilty of reporting misinformation.

He added: "I think the things that you don't read, that you don't see, and I'm not a social media person, but I'm aware of some of the things that were said over a period of time in a quite vicious and vitriolic way. 

"So I think it's the silent forces, the dark forces, I suppose, are the things that upset me most.

"I think most of you as professionals on things like that would come through the front door and get the information correct before and then write about it. I think it's the people who didn't ask for the information, didn't know the facts, or were just one of those faceless people out there. That was the damaging thing from her perspective.

"And she shared some of that with me, which I found quite abhorrent. [If not for the] unwarranted criticism and, in fact, bullying, I think it might have been a different scenario."

Castle departed in the wake of a letter to RA from 11 former Australia captains demanding a change.

McLean said constructive talks had been held with Nick Farr-Jones, whose name was among the skippers who signed the letter.

"I've had numerous conversations with Nick Farr-Jones, and let's be clear here, it's a very small collective of people who have been involved in the game of late; the significance of that group is probably the people who aren't on the list... and I have had constructive discussions with Nick about that," McLean said.

"It's great that people want to put their hand up and be involved but they need to be a part of the process. And one of the things that we've done reasonably well over the last six months or so is be on the journey with the member unions."

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle has quit her post amid pressure from the board and a raft of former Wallabies captains.

She confirmed her exit on Thursday in a statement to ABC early evening show 7.30 – saying fellow senior figures at Rugby Australia had called for "clean air" in the organisation.

Castle told the programme: "I made it clear to the board that I would stand up and take the flak and do everything possible to serve everyone's best interests.

"In the last couple of hours, it has been made clear to me that the board believes my no longer being the CEO would help give them the clear air they believe they need.

"The game is bigger than any one individual – so this evening I told the chair [Paul McLean] that I would resign from the role."

She departs in the wake of a letter to Rugby Australia from 11 former national team captains that called for the "current administration to heed our call and stand aside".

The skippers included Nick Farr-Jones, George Gregan, Michael Lynagh and Stirling Mortlock, with the letter leaked to Australian media.

It reportedly described Australian rugby as having "lost its way" due to "poor administration and leadership over a number of years".

The captains said: "We speak as one voice when we say Australian rugby needs new vision, leadership and a plan for the future.

"That plan must involve, as a priority, urgent steps to create a much-needed, sustainable, commercial rugby business."

The Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) has stood down its chairman Francis Kean from the World Rugby Council amid allegations of homophobia and discrimination.

An investigation into Kean, who was convicted of manslaughter in 2007, was launched by World Rugby following the claims, which came to light in the Sunday Times.

The decision means Kean's bid to join the World Rugby Executive Committee has also been withdrawn.

The FRU's place on the council will now be filled by its CEO John O'Connor.

"World Rugby notes the Fiji Rugby Union's decision to stand down Fiji Rugby Union Chairman Ratu Vilikesa Bulewa Francis Kean from the World Rugby Council, and therefore withdrawing his candidature for the World Rugby Executive Committee, following new allegations published in the UK Sunday Times," a World Rugby statement read.

"World Rugby takes all allegations of behaviour that is not in keeping with the sport’s strong and inclusive values and Bye-Laws extremely seriously.

"While it is important to stress that any allegations must be validated, following dialogue with World Rugby, the Fiji Rugby Union recognises the seriousness of the allegations made and the need for them to be fully investigated, and that it is in the best interests of the sport that Mr Kean steps down from the Council and his Executive Committee candidature be withdrawn."

The FRU seconded World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont's bid for re-election. The body insisted the FRU as a whole backed his nomination, not Kean individually.

Rugby Australia (RA) is discussing the possibility of playing a makeshift trans-Tasman competition and Bledisloe Cup series later this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Super Rugby season was suspended last month due to COVID-19 and plans for a domestic competition as part of a way to continue the campaign were put on hold.

Australia and New Zealand, however, have managed to halt the spread of coronavirus and travel conditions could eventually be eased.

After agreeing a pay cut with players on Monday, RA is eyeing a provincial competition and a 2020 Bledisloe Cup series between the Wallabies and All Blacks.

"Yeah it's certainly one of the models that we've got worked through at the moment and we remain in consistent discussions with New Zealand because obviously that makes a lot of sense," RA chief executive Raelene Castle told reporters via a conference call on Tuesday.

"The indications we're getting from government agencies is that the sequence of opening up is likely to be domestic first, then into maybe trans-Tasman and maybe Pacific, and then international.

"So we have a number of different scenarios that we are [looking at] and that's certainly one that we are in conversations with New Zealand about."

Castle added: "If the governments don't let us travel and the governments don't open international borders to allow teams to come in to this environment, we might not have any choice but to review what the structures look like [in terms of] what we deliver at the back-end of this year and then potentially what we could deliver into '21.

"So it won't be driven by what SANZAAR want to do, it will be driven by what governments allow and which countries open up their borders at what times. And certainly all of the indications that we are getting from the Australian and New Zealand governments is that they are very proud of the fact that they've managed to control this very well and limited the damage and the loss of life, and they're not willing to open that up again quickly to risk that they go backwards again.

"So that's an overlay that we as a SANZAAR community have to be dealing with and those are conversations that are actively happening."

Rugby Australia (RA) has agreed an average 60 per cent wage cut with players until September as it continues to deal with the financial ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic.

An agreement was struck following weeks of protracted talks between RA, the nation's Super Rugby teams and the Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA).

The news will affect 192 professional players in Australia and could reportedly save RA up to 83 per cent on payments between April and September.

Earlier in April, the organisation stood down 75 per cent of its staff for three months after warning 120million Australian dollars could be lost in revenue if the season was to end due to the global health crisis.

New terms will be discussed if the season resumes before September 30.

"This has not been an easy discussion, but it has been a necessary one to ensure that we are able to emerge from the other side of this crisis in the best possible position for the game to move forward. It is important to note that these measures are a stop-gap, not a full-stop," said RA chief executive Raelene Castle, who has taken a 65 per cent salary cut for six months.

"We are deep into our planning to ensure we are able to navigate our way through this and be ready for competition to resume as soon as that is possible.

“The players have been involved in this process and we look forward to continuing that work and seeing them back out on the field doing what they do best.

"The structure of our game is complex with the international models of SANZAAR, the Sevens World Series and the Olympic Games, and players in all forms of the game will be impacted differently. These differences for our athletes add complexity to the discussions and so continuing to work together is critical to getting the best outcomes for all.

"The country is missing rugby and we are all looking forward to the day that players can return to the field and fans to the stands."

RUPA CEO Justin Harrison added: "Australia's professional players will play a central role in the short–term preservation of the game by accepting a significant reduction in pay in order for necessary transformation to begin.

"The players reached a resolution with the Member Unions and Rugby Australia today.

"RUPA's members understand their part in the game's immediate future and the responsibility that goes with it. The players have voted as a block in supporting RUPA's recommendation."

Several unions have implemented measures to help cope with the financial burden caused by COVID-19, with New Zealand Rugby announcing a 50 per cent pay freeze with its players for the remainder of the year.

Last week, World Rugby announced a $100m relief fund would be made available to support struggling unions.

Australia are scheduled to face Ireland and Fiji in July, although the likelihood of those matches taking place appears slim. 

Steve Hansen has backed Warren Gatland's idea to stage a "decider" between the British and Irish Lions and New Zealand in 2021.

Gatland steered the Lions to a drawn series against Hansen's All Blacks in 2017 and will lead the team on a tour of South Africa next year.

The former Wales boss suggested a one-off match could be staged ahead of Tests against the Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks, in order to raise funds after the coronavirus pandemic.

While Hansen, who stepped down as All Blacks boss after the World Cup, stated such a game would not settle the 2017 series once and for all due to different personnel being involved, he believes it could be important to the sport's future.

"Well, it won't be a decider because it won't be the same people involved. But what he's really saying is let's have this game to try and help make some money for the game because the game is in trouble," Hansen told Wales Online.

"You have got one rugby nation, in the United States, who have gone bankrupt, we've got Australia on the brink, we know England have got a financial crisis, everybody will have because you are not getting paid the TV rights and those are what makes the game go round.

"The game is in financial crisis. People are struggling. So I think anything that allows us to create some income to support the game is important."

Hansen is now the director of rugby at Toyota Verblitz in Japan's Top League, which last month had its season cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The former All Blacks coach believes the suspension of rugby provides an opportunity to make sweeping changes for the good of the game.

"We have an opportunity now to start with a blank page because you have got everybody putting self-interest to the side," said Hansen.

"They know they could be gone if they don't do the right thing. So it's a great opportunity to bring everybody together, north, south, individual countries and do what it is right for the game. It's been a long time coming because it's been needed for quite some time.

"There has been a lot of self-interest and if we don't do the right thing we could lose the game and that would be a tragedy."

The inaugural Indian Premier League began with a bang when Brendon McCullum blasted an unbeaten 158 exactly 12 years ago.

McCullum's devastating display of hitting provided a glimpse of what was to come for the world's premier Twenty20 franchise competition.

To mark the anniversary, we take a look at some of sport's great curtain-raisers.

 

Indomitable Lions tame Maradona et al in Milan

As the defending champions, Argentina had the honour of kicking off the 1990 World Cup in Italy and were expected to encounter few difficulties against Cameroon.

The Indomitable Lions may have never won at a World Cup finals before, but 90 minutes later that had been rectified, Francois Omam-Biyik heading in a winner that was embarrassingly shovelled over the line by Nery Pumpido.

That was only half the story, though. Cameroon finished the game with nine men, Benjamin Massing following Andre Kana-Biyik in being sent off for an outrageous lunge on Claudio Caniggia that remains one of the enduring World Cup images.

Take nothing away from Cameroon, though. They went on to reach the quarter-finals - beaten by England - as the world finally took notice of African football.

 

Springboks take first step on road to glory

The honour of playing the first game at the Rugby World Cup typically goes to the hosts, and in 1995 the opening fixture pitted South Africa against reigning champions Australia in Cape Town.

The Springboks had only been permitted to return to international rugby in 1992 once apartheid was abolished, but, roared on by a partisan Newlands crowd that included future great Bryan Habana, they saw off the Wallabies 27-18.

It proved to be the catalyst for South Africa, who would go on to be crowned World Cup winners, a victory that did much to unite a nation divided for so long.

McCullum's IPL masterclass

T20 was still in its infancy in 2008 when Kolkata Knight Riders opener McCullum came to the crease, and there was little indication of what was to come when the New Zealander failed to score off his first six balls faced.

He soon got his eye in. McCullum would go on to smash 158 off 73 balls, including 13 sixes and 10 fours, as the Knight Riders cruised to a 140-run win against Royal Challengers Bangalore. It was a better start than even the IPL architects could have hoped for.

Only five men have recorded higher scores than McCullum's knock that day, but none have been as important as the display which showed the IPL was a force rather than a farce.

 

Lleyton Blewitt at Wimbledon

Lleyton Hewitt stepped onto Centre Court on June 23, 2003 as the defending Wimbledon champion to face world number 203 Ivo Karlovic.

The Australian demolished his 6ft 10ins opponent in a 19-minute first set, which he took 6-1, but Karlovic, playing in his first grand slam, flipped the script.

A 1-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 6-4 victory represented 24-year-old Karlovic's 11th Tour win as Hewitt became just the second man to lose in the first round at Wimbledon as a defending champion.

 

Patriots are Hunt-ed down in 2017

The defending Super Bowl champions have had the honour of kicking off the NFL regular season since 2004 and there was another championship banner being unveiled in Foxborough on September 7, 2017.

Pre-game talk surrounded the possibility of the New England Patriots going 19-0. The Kansas City Chiefs had other ideas, though, routing Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in their own backyard in a 42-27 success as rookie running back Kareem Hunt went off for 246 yards from scrimmage.

Belichick and Brady bounced back and New England finished 13-3 before making another Super Bowl, where Nick Foles and the 'underdog' Philadelphia Eagles lifted the Lombardi Trophy in Minnesota.

World Rugby has set up a $100m relief fund to aid unions struggling financially during the coronavirus pandemic.

The absence of any rugby union games because of the spread of COVID-19 has already had a huge impact, with USA Rugby filing for bankruptcy last month.

Rugby Australia (RA) stood down 75 per cent of its workforce for three months in March, shortly after it had revealed a provisional deficit of 9.4 million Australian dollars in 2019.

RA is discussing pay cuts for players while New Zealand Rugby has agreed a 50 per cent pay freeze with players for the remainder of 2020.

World Rugby has now pledged funds to unions across the globe, available until the action resumes, to combat what it says is rugby union's "greatest challenge".

A statement said: "The relief fund will available for unions requiring immediate emergency funding subject to appropriate criteria being met.

"It is designed to assist the maximum number of unions for the maximum amount of time while there is a rugby void. 

"For Six Nations and SANZAAR unions, the financial package will involve a combination of advances and loans, while World Rugby is also committed to supporting emerging nations and regional associations where required."

The game's governing body also revealed discussions are ongoing over a potential return date, with a "likely short-term reshaping of the international rugby calendar".

Four matches in the 2020 Six Nations were postponed when the crisis first hit Europe.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has reached an agreement to freeze about 50 per cent of remaining forecasted player spend for 2020.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought sport to a standstill around the world, with Super Rugby among the competitions impacted.

NZR and the New Zealand Rugby Players' Association (NZRPA) reached an agreement over player payments, including impacting Super Rugby and All Blacks players, on Thursday.

"The players are committed to playing their part in ensuring the long-term future of the sport and to ensure the game best manages the financial implications of COVID-19," NZRPA chief executive Rob Nichol said in a statement.

"In contemplating a scenario based on no professional rugby in 2020, NZR and the NZRPA together recognised the need to act now to prepare the game and the players for this, even if there is every intention of doing all we can to avoid it.

"As a result, we have agreed to immediately freeze approximately $25million, or 50 per cent, of the remaining forecasted player spend in 2020.

"In the event that this financial scenario eventuates, the frozen payments and benefits would become waived permanently. Alternatively, if professional rugby can resume and the financial outlook improves, then some of the frozen payments and benefits could be reinstated."

Among the other key changes, promotional payments and the majority of player performance incentives have been frozen.

From May 1, 15 per cent of the players' 2020 base retainers for those paid more than 50,000 New Zealand dollars per year will be frozen, with that raising to 30 per cent in September.

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