An exciting year for the sport that featured rugby sevens’ Olympic Games debut was reflected in the audited report with sponsorship and broadcast contracts completing ahead of schedule and with an uplift in value.
And while the overall financial target for Rugby World Cup 2019 cycle is anticipated to be approximately 20 per cent below the 2015 cycle owing, in part, to time-zone and scale of the Japan event, commercial values for worldwide partnerships have increased.
Investment continues to be in line with targets and an overall programme of £266 million is anticipated to be invested between 2016 and 2019, eclipsing the record for the previous four-year cycle by 38 per cent, reflecting a commitment to supporting sustainable growth.
With participation continuing to grow across all formats, a record £69 million is being invested during 2017 to support strategic development and performance programmes, including support of tier two unions on the road to Rugby World Cup 2019.
In summary, the 2016 highlights were:
- Record committed investment of £266 million through to 2019 in rugby globally
- Commitment to a record investment of £69 million in rugby in 2017
- Record investment in women’s 15s and sevens
- The growing strength of rugby sevens as a revenue generator with revenues exceeding £20 million generated during an Olympic Games year
- A £36.1 million loss for 2016, as adjusted for International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which World Rugby operates in line with global best practice
The loss for the year before the IFRS adjustment was £19.3 million, substantially better than expectations, due primarily to the contracting of commercial revenues earlier than expected in the four-year business cycle.
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World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “World Rugby’s strategic mission is to grow the global game and following a very special Rugby World Cup 2015 that generated record revenues for reinvestment in the global game, World Rugby invested unprecedented sums in global development, competitions, high-performance programmes, player welfare, anti-doping and a multi-million pound investment in the women’s game during 2016.
“This Rugby World Cup legacy will continue to benefit and strengthen our unions, touching every level of the game as we build a stronger, sustainable game together.”
With World Rugby operating on a four-year financial cycle, deferring all revenues and direct expenditures related to Rugby World Cup until the year of the tournament, all revenues relating to Rugby World Cup 2019 will be reported in 2019. Despite a challenging year generally from a global currency perspective for all stakeholders, World Rugby achieved a strong commercial and investment performance.
Rugby sevens continues to grow its share of World Rugby’s revenue generation. Olympic Games participation, strong support from HSBC as title sponsor for the men’s and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, DHL as a series partner and TAG Heuer as a new partner in 2016 were major contributing factors to total revenues from sevens in excess of £25m. All of this revenue has been reinvested in the sevens game overall.
Beaumont added: “World Rugby is currently on track to meet its financial targets for the four-year business cycle to 2020.
Rugby continues to experience record global participation growth and these financial results continue to underpin our game-wide investment programme that is a proven catalyst for year-on-year participation increases. Our strong balance sheet will ensure that we can build a strong and sustainable global game in partnership with our unions and regional associations.
“World Rugby’s strategic mission to grow the global rugby family is reflected by the organisation’s diligence in maintaining operating costs and strategically investing in the game for the next four years through targeted programmes, including training and education, player welfare, competitions, high performance and assistance with preparation costs for Rugby World Cup 2019.”
World Rugby Chief Executive Brett Gosper added: “The Rugby World Cup brand continues to go from strength to strength, reflecting a sport that is demonstrating record participation, fan and commercial growth.
It is therefore fantastic to see that all six of our worldwide partners – Emirates, Heineken, Landrover, Société Générale, Mastercard and DHL – have renewed for Japan 2019 in record time and with record investment, which is ultimately great for the development of the sport.”