The Australian Rugby Union recorded a deficit of £5.25m last year in its worst results in over a decade
Their financial predicament worsened in the 12 months to December 31 following a £3.37m deficit in 2014
The result was compounded by the ARU paying £2.67m to keep the troubled Melbourne Rebels Super Rugby franchise afloat
The Australian Rugby Union has unveiled a five-year plan to grow the game, a day after announcing a record loss on their annual accounts.
The ARU posted a loss of $9.8 million (US$7.44 million) for 2015, which follows deficits of $7.5 million 2011, $8.3 million in 2012 and $6.3 million in 2014.
They posted a $19.5 million surplus in 2013, mostly due to the windfall from the British and Irish Lions tour.
“It’s not something we’re proud of, but it is something we forecast,” said chief executive Bill Pulver. “There were no surprises in the number, but it’s not a good number.
“We knew that 2015 was going to be the last of a series of extremely difficult financial years. We knew that when we started working with the Rebels around their situation that that would exacerbate the problem.”
Pulver said 2015 was a tougher year than most because, with the World Cup taking place in England, only two Test matches were held in Australia and there was no June tour that brought over a major national side.
World Rugby helped offset the loss by providing the ARU with £10m from its 2015 World Cup bonanza as compensation for their scaled-down international programme last year.
Pulver said he was confident a new broadcast agreement from 2016-2020, which will provide at extra £91m over the next five years in comparison to the previous deal, would leave the game in a better financial state than the current numbers show.
“A three-Test series against England in Australia, the Rugby Championship and a tour to Britain in November should ease the ARU’s financial pain during the next 12 months,” he said.
On the field, the ARU has also laid out five-year targets for the Wallabies, which include regaining the Bledisloe Cup from New Zealand for the first time since 2003 and winning the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
The ARU are also looking for the Wallabies to consistently rank among the top three sides in the world.
Australia are currently ranked second, having lost to the All Blacks in the 2015 World Cup final, but slumped as low as sixth last year.