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RWC - record investment in the game

The Rugby Football Unions Annual Report and Accounts, published today, show an exceptional year and the positive financial impact of hosting Rugby World Cup 2015.

The past year saw the highest turnover in the RFU’s history, and record investment in rugby, with profit for rugby investment of £102.3m topping £100m for the first time and up 37% on the prior year.

Revenues almost doubled, with total revenue increasing by £199.2m, from £207.9m to £407.1m driven by £228.1m in year from the Rugby World Cup

In what would ordinarily be a loss making season, the Union achieved a retained profit of £3.9m, compared to a loss of £6.7m in 2014/15, a move of almost £11m year on year.

The past four years’ actual rugby investment exceeded the ambitious target set by the RFU Strategic Plan by £28m.

In the past year, the RFU invested £89.8m into rugby, 17% more than in the previous year, with £55.7m investment in professional rugby and £34.1m investment in rugby development

The investment in professional rugby included all England related costs for Rugby World Cup 2015 as well as costs for the tour to Australia in June 2016.

This was the fifth consecutive year of increased investment in rugby development, and included spending on a range of participation growth initiatives and delivering a lasting World Cup legacy in the community game.

Investment in the game was facilitated by underlying revenue growth in broadcasting (up 39%), sponsorship (up 8%), match day hospitality and non-match day conference & events (up 3%), and travel revenues, with England Rugby Travel (the official travel operator for RWC 2015) seeing an eight fold revenue increase.

Said CEO, Ian Ritchie, “This was a truly exceptional year. Despite the huge disappointment of England’s early exit from our home Rugby World Cup, by running the widely acclaimed ‘most successful Rugby World Cup ever’ we have delivered significant investment into rugby both at home and globally. The legacy will continue to benefit our community clubs and the sport at every level.”

Chief Financial Officer, Stephen Brown added, “The significant financial success of hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2015 as well as underlying growth in our businesses, results in record rugby investment at all levels

“Because of this success, we were able to also able to retain profits of almost £4m for future investment in what would ordinarily be a substantial loss making year

“We are very proud to have exceeded our Strategic Plan target for rugby investment by £28m over the past four years.

“Ultimately The Union is in a very good place financially, which enables the game as a whole in England to benefit directly from this success. ”

In summary the highlights for the year were:

  • Record £407.1m revenue
  • Profit for rugby investment over £100m for the first time
  • Four years’ rugby investment exceeded Strat Plan by £28m
  • Investment in rugby as a whole rose by 17% over previous year
  • RWC 2015 generated£228.1m revenue in year, £281.4m in total
  • Value of commercial partnerships increased
  • Healthy growth in playing numbers
  • A RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam for the England Senior team
  • Summer success for England, U20s and Saxons
  • More women and girls playing
  • Professionalisation of women’s game, with contracts for England Women at 15-a-side

The 2015/16 Annual Report & Accounts can be accessed here