The IRFU has made 20 non-playing staff redundant in recent days as part of its ongoing plans to curb costs due to the pandemic.
The union suffered a deficit of €37.5m last season and is anticipating losses of €29m this year as matches continue to take place in empty stadiums.
The redundancies, a mix of voluntary and compulsory departures, form part of the IRFU’s attempt to bring costs under control with income restricted due to the pandemic. The 20 staff represent approximately 10pc of the union’s staff and are largely drawn from the administrative staff, with some performance staff also departing.
The IRFU cut staff pay by 20pc by reducing all non-performance staff to a four-day week in June last year, while it brokered an initial pay-deferral deal with the players’ union Rugby Players Ireland before last July they agreed a deal that would see players on salaries above €25,000 per year take a 10pc pay cut to the end of the year with a further 10pc deferred and 5pc subject to a retrospective salary reduction.
Although most of the leading internationals have signed new deals on reduced terms, Munster last week blamed budgetary restrictions for the loss of JJ Hanrahan and Darren Sweetnam and squads are set to be trimmed.
There is growing optimism that some fans could attend games in the second half of the year, but the IRFU’s budget is predicated on behind-closed-doors games until 2022.
“Our working assumption is that we won’t see crowds of any significant numbers in our grounds until 2022. Maybe we are being prudent, but I think it is realistic. That is an informed assumption,” Union chief Philip Browne said last month.