Australian Rugby Union has praised the International Rugby Board for building a new and fairer financial model around the next Rugby World Cup in 2015.
The impact on ARU of a reduced domestic Test season last year ahead of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand was a $16 million revenue shortfall.
ARU Managing Director and CEO John O’Neill AO said at the time balance sheet burdens of such magnitude were unsustainable for Australia – and for its SANZAR partners New Zealand and South Africa.
Mr O’Neill today welcomed the leadership of IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset in delivering significant changes for the game’s showpiece event in England in three years that would ease the financial imposts of 2011.
The IRB Council has supported an increase in distributions from Rugby World Cup revenues which will provide ARU with £7.5 million ($A12m) across the period between the 2011 and 2015 tournaments.
For the previous four-year cycle the figure was £3.5 million ($A5.5m) with a special grant of a further £1 million (A$1.6) approved in late 2011.
In setting the 2015 Rugby World Cup starting date as September 18, the IRB has also set aside a £10 million ($A16m) allocation to dampen down any impact the timing may have on The Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship and the finances of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina.
The allocation will be distributed between the four individual unions on the basis of any proven revenue shortfalls they suffer as a result of Rugby World Cup timing.
Mr O’Neill said a further significant outcome was the decision by the IRB Council to review the commercial rules of the tournament.
“This has the potential to change the way ARU’s commercial partners are associated with the Qantas Wallabies during the tournament,” he said.
“In the past they have had limited visibility during Rugby World Cup.
“But if there is a move more towards the FIFA World Cup model where the commercial partners of national unions can have association at training, on training kit, and on media backdrops for instance, it will be a significant fillip for them.
“Overall, the financial package and the potential for some relaxation around the commercial rules is very satisfying. We have worked hard for these outcomes.
“I would also like to pay tribute to Mr Lapasset and to the IRB Management team for hearing the concerns we and our SANZAR partners have expressed over the last period of time.
“The result this week, in terms of the increased distribution and the allocation available for any effect the 2015 Rugby World Cup might have on The Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship, is significant.
“We are far better placed now.”
At the IRB meetings this week there were also two key appointments made involving ARU representatives on the governing body.
ARU Chairman Michael Hawker was elected unopposed to the IRB Executive Committee and Mr O’Neill was elevated to the chairmanship of the IRB Regulations Committee.