Rugby Australia has announced a surplus of $8.2 million at its 2022 Annual General Meeting – returning the business to surplus for the first time in four years.
The result comes on the heels of a difficult financial period for the governing body, after the effects of COVID saw it record a $27.1 million deficit just two years ago.
Rugby Australia Chairman Hamish McLennan hailed the result as a major turnaround, and a signal of the promising future ahead for the game.
“The last two years have been a wild ride for us – and with the removal of COVID restrictions, we were able to return to a full year of Rugby, and restore some normality in the business,” said Mr McLennan.
“To turn this thing around in such a short time is a great testament to Andy [Marinos, CEO] and the team at Rugby Australia, as well as the resilience of our game – and with the promise of a Lions Tour in two years, as well as home Rugby World Cups in 2027 and 2029, Rugby is very much on the rise again.”
Capped 86 times for his country, Joe Roff did everything in the game, winning the Rugby World Cup, Bledisloe Cup, British and Irish Lions series, Super Rugby titles, and retired as Super Rugby’s most prolific try-scorer.
Roff replaces another former Wallaby in David Codey, who comes to the end of his term as President – and was warmly thanked by Rugby Australia for his diligent and passionate work over the past two years.
The 2022 financial result comes off the back of a 31% ($30.6 million) increase in revenue, largely thanks to a return to a full season of match activity and events.
Match day revenue grew by 85% year-on-year, largely thanks to the highest match attendance at Wallabies Tests since the 2013 British and Irish Lions Tour – with 265,380 people attending six matches (three of which were sell-outs).
The good news extended to the field as well, with growth across all key participation areas – School, Clubs and Events – the largest of which (Schools) saw a 40% increase in participation over 2021.
Rugby Australia’s Get Into Rugby program for five to eight year-olds saw a 20% increase in participation, while female participation in Club Rugby grew by 9%.
Participation levels in Rugby Sevens grew substantially in 2022, no doubt thanks to the world-beating performances and resulting coverage of the Australian Men’s and Women’s Sevens teams.
With growth of 36% in Schools and 32% in Clubs, it is clear the success and visibility of the Aussie Sevens heroes has had a definite impact at grass roots level.
The second year of Rugby Australia’s partnership with Nine Entertainment Company saw a 21% increase on average audience for the six home Wallabies Tests, with a 58% increase in Stan Sport viewership across the England Series.
Rugby Australia’s social channels saw a 32% increase in followers (over 330,000 new fans), while engagement on these channels grew by 264% in 2022.
With a full season of Rugby, an increase in operational expenditure was required over the leaner years of 2020 and 2021, however this rise was capped at just 18%.
Rugby Australia’s commercial program also saw a significant uplift of 22% thanks to the upgrading of partnerships, the introduction of new sponsors, and innovations such as the introduction of geo-targeted LED and virtual pitch signage to be on-sold around the world.
Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos heralded the organisation’s turnaround as an important moment for the game in this country.
“There can be no doubt about how deep a hole Rugby was in as a result of the pandemic – we were genuinely on the cusp of catastrophe.
“To be able to turn things around and return a surplus in just two years is a tremendous testament to the team at RA that turn up and do everything they can for the game of Rugby every day.
“It has been a real grind – we have had to be incredibly disciplined financially, yet still delivering results across the business in participation, marketing and promoting a full season of Rugby, growth in commercial revenue.
“Getting that balance right has been difficult, however we are now rewarded with being in a strong position as we move forward to this year’s Rugby World Cup, the 2025 Lions tour, and our home Rugby World Cups in 2027 and 2029." Click here to view Rugby Australia’s 2022 Annual Report.