Rugby AU submit audited accounts

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by Beth Newman

Rugby Australia has submitted its 2019 financial report to ASIC after an audit of its books was able to be completed.

The national organisation reported a provisional $9.4 million loss at its annual general meeting at the end of March but auditors KPMG were unable to sign off on their final accounts amid ongoing financial uncertainty.

Since then, Rugby Australia has undergone a number of cost-cutting measures, including staff and player pay reductions, and also secured a $14.2 million loan from World Rugby to help navigate the coronavirus crisis.

Initially, former CEO Raelene Castle had forecast a worst case scenario of $120 million in lost revenue were no rugby able to be played in 2020 but plans for a domestic Super Rugby AU competitionare now in the final stages and there are hopes of a Bledisloe series to be played later in the year.

The governing body is also in the midst of finalising a new broadcast arrangement for a modified Super Rugby AU competition to kick off in July and still yet to sign a deal for 2021 and beyond.

Rugby Australia, and other affected businesses, were given an extension until May 31 to finalise their report and Rugby AU interim CEO Rob Clarke said in a statement on Sunday the report had been submitted.

“We have cleared another important milestone as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 crisis with the finalisation of our 2019 accounts," he said in a statement.

“We have been working very closely with KPMG to finalise the audit, the Directors conclude that the organisation is a going concern and KPMG has issued an unqualified audit opinion. The audited and signed accounts have been submitted today, and our 2019 Annual Report will be published in the coming days.

Clarke also confirmed that a business restructure would be announced in the coming days.

Rugby Australia has stood down 75 per cent of its staff until at least June 30 while the remainder of the organisation's employees have taken significant pay cuts or are working reduced hours.

The organisation's executive team also had their salaries cut by 30 per cent from April 1 as part of cost-cutting measures.

“This week we will also announce the first phase of an organisational restructure of the Rugby Australia business which we are in the final stages of completing,” Clarke said.