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How many people do you need to play a rugby match?


The financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic will be felt by every sport and this week it was revealed that rugby's losses will be multi-million.

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney revealed yesterday that if England don't play their money-spinning autumn internationals this year they will lose £107m.

The IRFU have not released such figures but Ireland international matches are the lifeblood of the game here while the provinces will also feel the impact.

Ulster have already placed staff on furlough while all four are losing big money without matchday revenue, not to mention the millions in television revenue lost by clubs competing in the PRO14 and Heineken Champions Cup.

Could some of those millions be saved by broadcasting games played behind closed doors?

It is certainly something that has been looked into by World Rugby who stated this week that; "Large traditional crowds are unlikely in the absence of an effective and freely available vaccine for Covid-19."

There is no certainty that a vaccine will be found and if one is discovered, it could be up to 18 months before it is made available.

The sport's governing body is keen to emphasise that the final call on whether matches can go ahead, either with or without supporters, will lie with respective governments and health authorities.

However, the numbers below give an interesting insight into how many people, minimum, would be required to stage a game behind closed doors.

Outside of the playing staff, coaches, bench support and match officials, which number 90, there are also medical staff, security personnel, broadcasting staff and stadium staff to take into account.

Even without supporters, the delivery of one match is quite complex and will need to be assessed thoroughly before it it is even considered as a viable option.

Personnel Number
Home team players 15
Visiting team players 15
Home team substitutes and bench support 11
Visiting team substitutes and bench support 11
Home team travelling reserves 3
Visiting team travelling reserves 3
Home team roving Doctor 1
Visiting team roving Doctor 1
Home team roving Physiotherapist 1
Visiting team roving Physiotherapist 1
Home team Technical box (water carriers) 2
Visiting team Technical box (water carriers) 2
Home team Coaches box 5
Visiting team Coaches box 5
Match Day Doctor 1
Immediate Care Lead 1
Medical room video viewer 1
Paramedics 6
Other medical specialists 2
Medical room video operator 1
Security guards 4
Referee 1
Assistant Referee 2
Side-line Referees, time keeper, statistics and communications 7
Television Match Official 1
Citing Commissioner 1
Ball team and ball team supervisor 7
Match Manager 1
Match Director 1
Administration 10
Broadcaster pitch-side crew (cameramen, line runners & floor manager) 20
Commentators 6
Outside broadcasting van 15
Stadium operations 8
Big screen and PA announcer 2
TOTAL 167

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Heineken Champions Cup IRFU Irish Rugby Pro14 Rfu World Rugby

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