A bumper broadcast deal helped the Waratahs and NSW Rugby Union return to the black, with the reunited organisations delivering a $262,611 combined profit in 2016.
The Waratahs and NSWRU took steps towards coming together at the end of last year, after operating as separate entities for the past six years.
ARU contributions to both entities rose off the back of a larger broadcast deal, with a combined $5,415,773 in 2015 growing to $8,256,385 in 2016.
The Waratahs received $5,716,201 of the ARU’s $33 million in Super Rugby funding last year, a mix of broadcast deal flow-on and regular high performance contributions, up from $3.9 million in 2015.
NSWRU chairman Roger Davis said more than $1 million of the national body injection was put back into its grassroots.
“On the back of a strong season in 2015 and a new broadcast deal for 2016 we’ve turned around our financial situation and posted a profit,” he said.
“Most of the additional broadcasting revenue was re-invested to protect a $1.1 million grant to the community game, funding new membership programs and marketing Super Rugby to attract fans to the games.”
In the Waratahs high performance department, the departure of some senior players in recent years meant their player contract commitments were smaller in 2016, from 2015’s $9,646,88 to $8,769,500.
Poor results are having an impact on the Waratahs, with corporate hospitality revenue halving in the past year, from $1,054,432 to just $401,136 in 2016, while gate-takings and memberships have gone down from $4,782,295 to $3,787,835.
Those decreases come despite more cash spent on marketing, going from $872,007 to $1,106, 719.
Though there were still eight home games for NSW in 2016, 2015 included a home semi-final and 2016 produced mixed results
NSWRU chief executive Andrew Hore admitted there was still a way to go in the professional side of the game, as the Waratahs battled on the field.
“There’s a poor perception of Super Rugby and Australian Rugby right now and that’s a concern. But a strong competition and a successful NSW team will generate an income that can be invested back into community rugby,” Hore said.
“We know we need to work more to engage our fans so that we give our supporters a better sporting experience at our games and with the team.
“There’s still a challenge to make sure we continue to grow the game in NSW while at the same time fostering the rising interest in women’s rugby, sevens and other forms of the game that can attract more people to the sport.
“A new strategic plan is now in place that sets a course and direction for the next three years and will see significant changes to our business model, our operations and the governance of the NSWRU.”
On the community front, NSWRU said it had exceeded its participation targets last year, particularly when it came to the introduction of schools program, Game On, with 24,355 children involved in the initiative, along with 37,379 club XVs players and 17,157 schools XVs.
The thrilling Shute Shield season that delivered Norths’ first premiership in 41 years, boosted Premier Rugby takings from $152,505 to $172,814.
Davis said those numbers were crucial when looking at the future of rugby.
“We rely on strong clubs and rugby development across the state and at the same time, the grassroots rely on the NSW Waratahs to help attract more people to play rugby,” David said.
“We have nearly 80,000 players involved in rugby in NSW right now and it’s growing.
“There’s an increase in numbers in regional NSW, a one per cent jump in juniors and more than 24,000 kids are involved in ’Game On’ which introduces the basics of the game to primary school aged kids.”