England men’s and women’s sevens players – some of whom are due to compete in next year’s Olympics – may not have their contracts renewed because of the financial impact of coronavirus.
The Rugby Football Union (RFU) is expecting revenue losses of up to £107m and said contracts may end this summer.
Players told the Telegraph they had been told to find new jobs.
“We are having to make difficult decisions,” an RFU statement said.
“To ensure we have a sustainable RFU we have announced a proposal to reduce the number of roles across the organisation. We have also advised our rugby sevens men’s and women’s players that we may not be able to renew their contracts when they expire over the summer.”
Sevens made its Olympic debut at the 2016 Games, where Team GB’s men’s team won silver and the women’s team finished fourth.
The RFU has approached UK Sport for funding and is exploring the option of a Team GB sevens team on the World Sevens Series circuit, saying it does not believe it “can sustain the team in its current format”.
“I have a wife, a child and a mortgage to pay,” Rio silver medallist Phil Burgess told the Telegraph.
“And I am being asked to find a job, keep fit and then ask this job if I can come away for six months to play rugby and then return to the job.
“In the current climate we are in, people are not just giving out jobs and employers want commitment. Why would anyone take a punt on someone who will be around for a few months and will then be away again?”
At the end of June, New Zealand were awarded the men’s and women’s World Sevens Series titles after the cancellation of the remaining rounds.
In an effort to combat revenue losses, England head coach Eddie Jones took a 25% pay cut at the end of March and the RFU executive team are continuing to take voluntary pay reductions.