DUAL INTERNATIONAL: Andrew Walker appearing in gold against the Barbarians in his heyday.
DUAL INTERNATIONAL: Andrew Walker appearing in gold against the Barbarians in his heyday.

Crisis places Rangers under financial strain

RUGBY: The Ipswich Rangers have $50,000 stock sitting in a shed after the coronavirus forced the suspension of the season.

The club bought the jerseys, shorts, socks and other apparel over the off-season using its working capital.

Funds outlaid are typically recovered as players purchase the items and through sponsorships. There is a chance, however, that will not occur this year should Rugby Australia sanctioned competitions not resume.

Ipswich Rangers president Rohan McPhail said while such a situation would not be dire, it would bog cash flow moving forward and the club would much prefer to have the coin in its coffers.

"If long-term the season is cancelled that is when the big dramas will come in," he said.

"It doesn't mean we would shut down, assuming everything is back to normal by Easter next year. But we would still rather have the money in the bank than shorts and socks in the shed.

"There would be clubs in worse situations than we are."

McPhail said the worsening economic crisis had also placed financial pressure on the local businesses to sponsor the club but none had retracted their support as yet.

He said the club felt for the business community but would face a fiscal downturn should sponsors be forced to pull out and it was hoped as many as possible could hang in there, remain viable and continue to back Rangers.

Rugby Australia has suspended all community-based activities from premier to tiny tots until further advice. Training is banned until the first week of May when a review will be conducted. Should the pandemic be controlled, there has been suggestions of extending the season which normally finishes in August to September 21 to allow more games.

In an effort to shield clubs from further financial pain caused by an avalanche of refund requests, Rugby Australia determined registration fees already paid would not be returned until a final announcement was made.

McPhail said the directive offered Rangers much-needed protection. He said although the club would survive if it were a non-competition year, it would love to see the season kick-off.

"Players had just completed a full pre-season and were ready to take the field," he said. "Some may only play one sport, so they're scratching their heads.

"Everyone is disappointed but it's not all doom and gloom. I would stress the season has been postponed, not cancelled.

"Every association is champing at the bit to open their doors and get back on the grass. We are still hopeful of getting a season underway."

Prior to the disruption, teams had been full steam ahead preparing in earnest.

Hopes were high for what they might have been able to achieve after positive steps to appoint new senior coaches.

In what would have been a coup for the Woodend Park-based club, dual-code international Andrew Walker was set to take the reins as head coach. The former Wallaby had already been working with the under-15s and 16s and players were excited by the prospect of tapping into his considerable experience. While there will be no organised training held for the foreseeable future, McPhail said coaches had provided tailored training programs or encouraged players to maintain their fitness levels during the hiatus on their own accord.

Chat groups have also been formed via social media to allow players to communicate and stay in touch.

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ELITE ASSISTANCE: Ex-Wallaby Andrew Walker had been enlisted to mentor the Ipswich Rangers prior to the season being suspended due to coronavirus.
ELITE ASSISTANCE: Ex-Wallaby Andrew Walker had been enlisted to mentor the Ipswich Rangers prior to the season being suspended due to coronavirus.


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