England’s men’s and women’s rugby sevens teams face being axed as a means cost cutting as the nation’s governing body looks to set to miss revenue targets ahead of the 2019-20 season.
Reports emerged on Wednesday that the program was under threat with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) forced to make savings of up to $13 million.
Disbanding the sevens teams is being considered as one of a wide range of options to save funds, an RFU spokesperson confirmed to CNN.
England has traditionally been one of the strongest nations on the global sevens circuit – the shortened, fast-paced version of the 15-a-side game – frequently placing in the top five of the World Rugby Sevens Series since the competition’s inception two decades ago.
Simon Amor’s men’s side finished runner-up in the 2016-17 season and lost in the final of last year’s World Cup in San Francisco.
In Dan Norton, England boasts a player with 320 tries to his name – more than anyone else in the history of the sport.
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There are 20 players contracted to the men’s sevens team with salaries reported to be between $33,000 and $118,000. It is thought the sevens program could be shelved by July.
The RFU is hoping to save costs by joining forces with Scotland and Wales to compete as a Great Britain team. At the 2016 Rio Games – when rugby made its Olympic debut – a GB team comprising largely of English players won a silver medal.
“We have communicated very clearly over many months that we need to make some savings in the next financial year,” said an RFU spokesperson.
“We are consulting with the game on this. Creating a Team GB Sevens model has long been our preferred approach, given that sevens is an Olympic sport.”
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Having finished fifth at last weekend’s Las Vegas Sevens, England’s men travel to Vancouver, Canada, this week for a tournament they won in 2017.
CNN’s Alex Thomas contributed to this report