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Rugby Australia Reveal $27.1 Million Net Deficit


After a year in which Rugby Australia was forced to shut down both professional and community rugby across Australia, the organisation has released its financial report for 2020.

Through the 2020 calendar year, Rugby AU recorded a $27.1 million net deficit, and has seen a fall in revenue of $65 million, with 2020 producing a low $45.7 million in revenue.

This is a substantial change compared to 2019 which produced $111 million in revenue.

This is the first time since 2015 Rugby AU’s revenue is below the $100 million threshold.

Despite the financial losses, Rugby AU reduced cost efficiencies by $31.2 million in 2020, with employee wages and salaries reduced by $9.9 million, player costs reduced by $7.7 million, and Member Union funding reduced by $8.1 million.

In the report, Rugby Australia chairman, Hamish McLennan, said: “Australian rugby has been through some challenging years recently, but nothing could have prepared us for 2020.”

“There were genuine fears that the financial losses may prove too big to bear.

“It was an extraordinary job just to survive,” he said.

Rugby Australia recorded a reduction in sponsorship revenue totalling $15.4 million as sponsorship revenue was projected to be $33 million by the end of the year before the COVID-19 pandemic.

A part of this reduction can be explained by the departure of major sponsor, Qantas, who withdrew their $5 million annual sponsorship due to COVID-19.

Broadcasting was a positive for the organisation as they announced in November a $100 million three-year partnership (with a two-year option to extend) with Nine Entertainment Co. and streaming service, Stan.

“[This partnership] will pay dividends in more ways than one, as it provides multiple platforms to engage more Australians with our game,” McLennan said.

Due to international border closures, Rugby AU introduced the five-team Australian-only Super Rugby AU competition in 2020.

The previous Super Rugby regular season ran for seven weeks before it stopped operation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the reduction in teams, the Super Rugby AU delivered an average 130% increase in viewership.

While participation in men’s rugby was reduced, women’s rugby surpassed expectations, recording a 10% growth in club and competition rugby.

The report said: “this is the fifth year in a row that female Rugby has recorded double-digit participation growth.”

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