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The IRFU has warned that further cuts will be made to the association without additional government funding and a meaningful return of fans. 

CEO Philip Browne said this evening that the association had suffered a 47 per cent reduction in turnover for the first half of 2021, compared to 2019’s figures. 

Playing the Six Nations games with England and France behind closed doors cost them revenue of 16-million euro. 

Thursday's Annual Council Meeting was warned that the IRFU is still at significant financial risk due to the persisting  impact of COVID 19.

Browne said, "We have made encouraging progress in recent weeks with the return of increasing numbers of supporters to various sporting and cultural events, which leaves us hopeful that fans may return in meaningful numbers to our grounds in autumn.

"I would like to thank the government, in particular Minister Chambers and his department officials for their commitment to facilitating the safe progressive return of fans to stadia.

"As the only sporting organisation fully supporting a professional game, we are dependent on the national and provincial teams’ ability to generate revenues which have been decimated by the impact of COVID restrictions since March 2020."

The IRFU suffered a 47% fall in turnover for the first half of 2021, compared to the same period in 2019.

It was also revealed that missing out on hosting the Six Nations games with England and France at a full Aviva Stadium cost the association €16million alone in revenue.

Earlier in the day, the Taoiseach Mícheál Martin raised hopes of increased attendances for the second half of the year in Ireland's major stadia.

"Jack Chambers [Minister of State for Sport] is engaging with the sporting organisations, and engaging with the FAI as well in respect of forthcoming World Cup qualifiers and so on to see what we can do," he said, "And again to see what additional tools can be used to protect as we potentially increase numbers.

"We are looking at that."

But that may not be enough for the IRFU, with Browne warning, "Without additional government funding in 2021, and a return of fans to our stadia in meaningful numbers later this year, the IRFU would once again have to review all activities and swiftly implement another round of very unpalatable cost reductions.

"Further cuts, if necessary, would have a significant impact on the organisation and all activities from grassroots to pro game pathways."

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Coronavirus Covid-19 IRFU Irish Rugby Jack Chambers Philip Browne Six Nations

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