World Rugby has underscored its commitment to continued global rugby participation growth with the announcement of record financial results for 2015 and a record investment programme for 2016 following a hugely successful Rugby World Cup 2015 in England.
The consolidated financial results for the fourth year of World Rugby’s 2013-16 business cycle saw the highest turnover in World Rugby’s history and record rugby investment as rugby participation topped a record 7.73 million, almost double the figure at the start of the cycle.
The results demonstrate a higher than anticipated revenue of nearly £345 million. The growth in revenues reflects improved broadcast and sponsorship markets for RWC 2015 and a higher tournament fee from the RFU.
With more than 1.5 million new players attracted to the sport in 2015, investment increased for the sixth consecutive year. It is anticipated that the core direct investment in the sport will increase throughout the four-year cycle to 2020 with total investment anticipated at £245.8million, eclipsing the previous 2013-16 £201 million investment injection by 22 per cent.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “Rugby continues to experience record global participation growth and these record financial results will underpin our game-wide investment programme that is a proven catalyst for year on year participation increases and will ensure that we can build a strong and sustainable global game in partnership with our unions and regional associations.
The results show a profit for the year of £189.5 million, as adjusted for International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which World Rugby operates in line with global best practice. Under IFRS, World Rugby defers all revenues and direct expenditures for RWC 2015 until the year of the tournament. All funds received from Rugby World Cup 2015 will be reinvested in the game through World Rugby’s programmes.
Beaumont added: “World Rugby’s strategic mission to grow the global rugby family is reflected by the organisation’s diligence in maintaining operating costs and strategically investing in the game for the next four years through targeted programmes, including training and education, player welfare, tournaments and high performance and assistance with preparation costs for Rugby World Cup 2019.
The results represent a position ahead of forecast, driven by a 70 per cent growth of Rugby World Cup commercial revenues during the four-year tournament cycle and reflects commercial, broadcast and participation growth in rugby worldwide, particularly in major and emerging rugby markets.
The results are announced as rugby continues to experience record growth on and off the field, following a game-changing Olympic Games that projected rugby to new audiences and Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan generating new opportunities in Asia.
World Rugby’s funding programme includes increased commitment to player welfare research, prevention and education strategies, anti-doping and integrity programmes.
Men’s and women’s 15s and sevens competitions (including Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017) and development initiatives, including Get Into Rugby, which attracted and retained more than one million players in 2015.