World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said the sport was taking "unprecedented" action to support unions through the coronavirus pandemic ©Getty Images

World Rugby has announced its new coronavirus relief strategy, which it says aims to lead the sport through "its greatest challenge."

The governing body says the strategy aims to support the game globally while mitigating the impact of the ongoing pandemic on the sport.

The strategy is supported by a relief fund of $100million (£80million/€92million) to assist unions until rugby can resume.

Unions requiring immediate emergency funding can access the pot of money set aside subject to appropriate criteria being met.

For Six Nations and South African, New Zealand and Australian Rugby (SANZAAR) unions, the financial package will potentially involve a combination of advances and loans.

World Rugby has also committed to supporting emerging nations and regional associations where required.

Alongside the financial support, World Rugby has also been considering plans to restart the sport.

Various plans are being considered in consultation with Six Nations and SANZAAR unions and players.

Options on the table include likely short-term reshaping of the international rugby calendar to increase competition opportunities for unions and domestic leagues. 

Among the scenarios being considered as part of planning are one where travel between hemispheres may not be possible and as a worst-case scenario, one where no international rugby is possible in 2020.

World Rugby say all scenarios being considered are taking into account player welfare and the need for adequate preparation and rest.

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: "Global sport is facing a crisis never seen before and at this most challenging time we are taking unprecedented action as a sport united to support global rugby, its unions, competitions and players through the enormous challenge presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The measures announced today will provide support and short-term relief in the form of a $100 million ((£80million/€92million) relief fund, while we are committed to exploring calendar options that reflect and address a dynamic, complex and uncertain environment.

"I have chaired many productive meetings in recent weeks with my union, region, competition and player colleagues and we are rapidly moving towards a viable calendar solution and, while compromises are being made, the outcome will be in the best interests of the whole game.

"This is a process with solidarity, unity and leadership at heart – one that sets a potential blueprint for successful collaboration in the future and I would like to thank everyone for their openness, cooperation and global view."