Rugby Australia secures $80 million loan amid sponsorship loss
Following the recent setback of losing Harvey Norman as a major sponsor, Rugby Australia (RA) has secured an $80 million loan agreement with Pacific Equity Partners.
Opting for a hefty loan over private equity, RA is confident that upcoming events, including the 2025 British and Irish Lions tour and the 2027 (men’s) and 2029 (women’s) home World Cups, will contribute to debt repayment.
This financial move comes on the heels of Hamish McLennan’s resignation as RA chairman, prompted by pressure from six member unions after the Wallabies’ unexpected exit from the recent World Cup at the group stage. McLennan’s role in appointing Eddie Jones as coach played a pivotal role in his departure. The newly appointed chairman is former Wallaby Daniel Herbert.
RA plans to allocate the $80 million loan strategically, focusing on critical areas such as high-performance integration, women’s rugby, and community and pathways development. CEO Phil Waugh sees this injection of cash as a pivotal step in setting up the game for future success.
“Given the visibility we have on revenues from the British and Irish Lions and World Cups, it became clear that debt capital was going to be the best solution for Rugby,” Waugh said in a statement.
“This does not compromise RA’s options down the road, which could include private equity investment.
“This approach ensures that we retain 100 per cent of the commercial revenues from the game, that all capital raised will go into the game, and that RA controls its own direction during this next period of growth and development.”
Rugby Australia remains focused on strategic financial decisions that will enable the organisation to navigate challenges, capitalise on growth opportunities and maintain control over its future trajectory in the ever-evolving landscape of rugby.