World Rugby has underscored its commitment to global rugby growth with the announcement of strong financial results for 2014 and details of a record investment programme for 2015.
Consolidated financial results for the third year of World Rugby’s 2013-16 business cycle demonstrate a better than anticipated planned operating loss with funding invested and utilised by World Rugby in 2015 set to total a record £53 million (excluding Rugby World Cup 2015-related expenditure).
With rugby participation at an unprecedented 7.2 million and growing, it is anticipated that the core investment will remain at approximately this level throughout the remainder of the cycle with total investment anticipated at £201 million, eclipsing the previous 2009-12 £150 million investment commitment by 34 per cent.
The 2014 results show a loss for the year of £68.2 million, as adjusted for International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which World Rugby operates in line with global best practice. Under IFRS, World Rugby defers revenues and direct expenditures for RWC 2015 until the year of the tournament.
The loss for the year before the IFRS adjustment was £1m, which represents a position significantly ahead of forecast and reflects the growth in rugby popularity worldwide, particularly in major markets. Better than anticipated cashflows and commercial programme outcomes, combined with costs in line with expectations, resulted in a net position for 2014 that was ahead of budget.
The results come as rugby continues to experience record growth on and off the field, with participation having increased by more than 600,000 globally in 2014, and England 2015 set to be the most financially-successful event in in Rugby World Cup’s 28-year history.
World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "Rugby is experiencing unprecedented growth around the world and these strong financial results underpin our record investment programme which continues to be the driving force behind year-on-year increases in registered and community rugby participation from the playground to the podium.
"These record levels of investment are driven by the strength of the Rugby World Cup brand as one of the world’s most successful, best-loved and largest major sporting events, popular with players, fans, broadcasters and commercial partners alike. As the source of 90 per cent of World Rugby’s revenues, it delivers the long-term financial platform to develop and grow the game around the world."
World Rugby’s funding programme includes an increased commitment to player welfare, anti-doping and integrity programmes, men’s and women’s sevens and 15s competitions (including Olympic Games qualification) and development initiatives, including the World Rugby’s Get Into Rugby programme which attracted and retained 460,000 children in 2014.
With Rugby World Cup 2015 set to be the most compelling and competitive to date, World Rugby has underwritten key programmes focused on increasing the competitiveness of international 15s and sevens via its £44 million strategic investment programme over four years.
The programme, underwritten by Rugby World Cup revenues, supports high performance projects and tournaments for targeted Rugby World Cup-level unions with England 2015-qualified teams benefiting from investment in quality coaching, technical and administrative support (including underwriting player insurance for release of performance union players from elite clubs). The programme has also been the catalyst behind the 2.6 million increase in global participation since Rugby World Cup 2011.
Lapasset added: "We are committed to ongoing investment in our unions, at all levels, and continue to collaborate with them and our regional associations to ensure that we service and support their strategic needs. We are also committed to supporting our high performance and development unions through unprecedented investment in competitions to prepare for RWC 2015 and beyond to RWC 2019.”
The commercial programme for Rugby World Cup 2015 is set to achieve record levels, driven by confidence in the Rugby World Cup brand, particularly in the European broadcast market. Revenues are currently in line with budget but ahead of schedule with all worldwide partnerships completed in record time. World Rugby also acknowledges the recently announced strong continued support of HSBC as the title sponsor for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, with sevens revenues on a strong growth curve ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The Rugby World Cup brand is at an all-time high and with preparations on track to deliver an outstanding Rugby World Cup 2015 in England with a strong commercial and rights-protection programme in place, World Rugby is confident that it will achieve its anticipated target surplus to allow it to provide a further significant boost to the development of the game at all levels within the next four-year investment cycle.
World Rugby Chief Executive Brett Gosper said: "The commercial programme for Rugby World Cup 2015 in England is on track to deliver a record net surplus for investment in the game of approximately £150 million with our top level worldwide partner programme locked down in record time and with record value and a wider, stronger broadcast platform.
"World Rugby’s mission to grow the global rugby family is reflected by the organisation’s diligence in maintaining reduced operating costs and strategically investing in the game for the period 2013-16 through targeted programmes, including training and education, player welfare, tournaments and high performance, including assistance with preparation costs for RWC 2015. We are also investing significantly in men’s and women’s sevens as we continue preparations for our Olympic Games return at Rio in 2016."