Australian Rugby records $19.5m profit for 2013 calendar year

by Staff Writer

Australian Rugby Union today announced a $19.5 million surplus for 2013, in a year that saw the return of the British & Irish Lions to Australia; increased participation; a new Head Coach for the Qantas Wallabies; and a new strategy to grow the game.

The 2013 financial results were presented to the Australian Rugby Union 2013 Annual General Meeting.

ARU Chairman Michael Hawker AM said 2013 had been a year to reunite and re-energise the Australian Rugby community.

“The British & Irish Lions Tour generated a significant surplus for us in 2013 and will help steer Australian Rugby towards future success on and off the field,” Mr Hawker said.

“We continue to play an important role in the Australian sporting landscape for fans, players, sponsors and volunteers and have three key areas of focus under the new strategy – expand participation; develop elite success; and unlock our financial potential.”

Mr Hawker said building a sustainable financial model for Australian Rugby remains the number one priority for the Board and Executive in the year ahead as operating deficits are expected for 2014 and 2015.

“Our efforts to reduce Australian Rugby’s cost base and unlock new sources of revenue will continue in 2014 as we work to develop a business model that is less reliant on one-off windfalls and provides the ability to strategically invest in the growth of our game.”

Highlights for Australian Rugby in 2013 include:

Nine match British & Irish Lions Tour – including three Tests – generating an incremental surplus of $35m, from what would ordinarily be expected from a typical June in-bound Test series.

Participation increased by 27.5% in 2013 compared to 2012, with a total of 615,809 people across Australia participating in Rugby, with Queensland recording the highest number of overall participants (259,690 participants) and New South Wales with the highest number of people participating in competition or structured Rugby programs (104,784 – up 3.2%).

Improved development pathway to help players move from junior Rugby to the elite levels, with a national program – Junior Gold Cup – established for Under 15 and Under 17 teams and an updated program introduced to re-energise the national Under 20s program.

Announced a new domestic competition, the National Rugby Championship, which will start in August 2014 and will enhance the development pathway for players, coaches and match officials; and provide quality content for fans and broadcasters.

The popularity of Rugby Sevens grew, with participation up 40.7% in 2013 compared to 2012, taking the total number of participants nationally to a record 54,687.

Increased funding for Sevens and the decision to centralise the ARU’s Sevens program in Sydney. This investment was reflected on the international stage with strong performances from Australia’s Women’s Sevens team who finished the 2013 calendar year on top of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series rankings.

Four consecutive wins for the Qantas Wallabies to end 2013, under new coach Ewen McKenzie who took the helm in July.

The incremental profit generated by the British & Irish Lions Tour ($35m) was offset by operating deficits of around $8m from other ordinary business; $5.5m in financial assistance provided to the Melbourne Rebels during the year; and an additional $2m investment in Sevens program expenditure.

The AGM also saw Members elect Mr Dick McGruther OBE as a Life Member of the ARU. Mr McGruther is a former Chairman and President of the Queensland Rugby Union, and ARU Chairman (1996 to 1998).

Three new Board Directors – Nerolie Withnall (Lawyer and Company Director); Paul McLean MBE (former Wallaby and Businessman); and Cameron Clyne (former Victorian Rugby representative and NAB CEO) – were also formally elected to the Australian Rugby Union Board following vacancies created during 2013.

The 2013 ARU Annual Report is available at http://www.rugby.com.au/AnnualReport/2013/Annualreport2013.pdf

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