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ARU reports surplus and participation growth in 2016

ARU reports surplus and participation growth in 2016
April 11, 2017

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has announced a turnaround in its finances, posting a surplus of $3.7 million for 2016 - a big turnaround on the $9.84 million deficit it experienced in 2015.

With yesterday also seeing the announcement that one of Australia’s five Super Rugby franchises are likely to be cut from the competition, the ARU’s 2016 annual report showed that revenues had been boosted by its $285 million broadcast deal and increased Test schedule.

As expected broadcast revenues were up, accounting for $61.4 million, of the total $127.8 million in total revenue, up $43.3 million from 2015 while match-day revenue rose by $13.2 million.

By contrast, the World Cup year of 2015 saw revenues from domestic matchdays, broadcasting and sponsorship down due to only two international tests being played in Australia.

In 2016 the ARU’s financial position was bolstered through the significantly improved broadcast deal, an 18% growth in sponsorship income, and the financial success of the sold-out HSBC Sydney7s and the England Series in June.

With the improved broadcast arrangement, the ARU invested in strategic priorities including community rugby (expenditure grew by $4.1 million), Wallabies (expenditure grew by $2.8 million) and Sevens (expenditure grew by $1.2 million). Super Rugby expenditure increased by $13.8 million, which includes the $4.8 million to the Western Force alliance agreement (which was not forecasted in the original 2016 budgets).

In participation, the highlight was women’s rugby with a 33% increase in the number of women playing Sevens rugby, largely driven by high participation in Queensland and NSW schools.

In the 15-a-side version of the women’s game, club rugby participation increased by 24%.

The ARU listed its significant highlights from the year include:

• The success of the Qantas Australian Women’s Sevens team at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, where they claimed the first ever gold medal for rugby sevens, three months after winning their maiden World Series title.
• Participation grew significantly in strategic programs including Game On (Australian Rugby’s five-week rugby program for primary schools) and Foxtel VIVA7s.
• New concussion, safety and inclusion initiatives were developed and introduced to maximise the wellbeing of all rugby participants.
• In landmark Olympic year, Sevens participation grew by 37% (33% female increase; 39% male increase).
• Women’s participation grew by 33% in Sevens and 24% in Club XVs.
• Deadly7s - Australian Rugby’s five-week Indigenous schools rugby program - was delivered to 2,462 primary school students (significantly surpassing the target of 400 students).
• Rugby.com.au was relaunched and gained an extra 16,000 users per day.
• The inaugural Sydney7s was an outstanding success in terms of fan engagement, team performances and commercial revenue. More than 50% of ticket buyers, and 85% of corporate hospitality buyers had never purchased rugby tickets before.
• Engagement in the Buildcorp NRC grew with a 10% increase in crowd attendance and 23% increase in viewership on a per match basis (or 65% increase overall).
• The Qantas Wallabies introduced 13 new debutants in 2016 - the second highest tally of the professional era - with encouraging signs in the lead up to the 2019 World Cup.
• Michael Cheika, Stephen Larkham and Mick Byrne made long term commitments to coaching the Qantas Wallabies.
• The Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens team finished fourth in the World Series, their best result in six years.
• Sponsorship revenue grew by 18%, bolstered by new partnership agreements with Destination NSW, Foxtel, Falken Tyres, Bet365, RM Williams, Sydney Airport, and new commitments from Qantas, BMW, Buildcorp, Swisse, Dove and Seiko.
• Match day revenue increased by $13.2m from 2015, thanks to the return of a full domestic Test calendar and the success of the Sydney7s and England Series.
• Construction commenced on the Australian Rugby Development Centre (ARDC) at Moore Park with $20 million of funding from the Federal Government and NSW Government. The ARDC will be a community hub for rugby players and fans, within a renowned sporting precinct. 

ARU Cameron Clyne commented “in the first year of our Strategic Plan we set ambitious targets across our four pillars and invested strategically in key areas that will grow our game for the future.

“To ensure our Strategic Plan remains relevant we have already commenced a review of the plan to ensure it meets the needs of our constituents in the rugby community. Over the last twelve months we have seen that our community wants more detail about the strategic direction of grassroots rugby and we are committed to sharing this information with them, once the review is complete.

“While we face challenges, 2016 showed us that there are also significant opportunities for us to grow and strengthen our game in this country. The growth in Sevens and women’s rugby, and the transitions from Game On into junior club rugby registrations, show us that Australians have an appetite for rugby.”

Held on Monday, the ARU AGM sawthe re-election of Clyne and former Wallaby Paul McLean as Directors. Tony Shaw was elected as President, Tim Gavin was elected as Senior Vice President and Jeff Miller was elected as Junior Vice President while John Massey and Josephine Sukkar were re-elected as Nominations Committee members.

Click here to view the Australian Rugby Union’s 2016 Annual Report.

Images: Women's rugby reported significant participant growth in 2016 (top) while Super Rugby continues to require investment from the ARU (below).

10th April 2017 - ARU CONFIRMS EITHER WESTERN FORCE OR MELBOURNE REBELS WILL BE CUT FROM SUPER RUGBY

28th March 2017 - ARU REJECTS ROY MORGAN FINDINGS ON RUGBY PARTICIPATION

23rd March 2017 - MASSIVE DECLINE IN AUSTRALIANS’ PARTICIPATION IN RUGBY, SQUASH AND TENPIN BOWLING 

5th March 2017 - RUGBY CODES GET BIG GRANTS OVER HIGHER PARTICIPATION SPORTS IN NSW 

29th November 2016 - RUGBY SEVENS’ POPULARITY RISES IN THE WAKE OF AUSTRALIAN WOMEN’S WIN AT OLYMPICS

8th November 2016 - ARU TO REVIEW STRATEGIC PLAN AFTER MEETING WITH RUGBY STAKEHOLDERS 

15th August 2016 - NEW RUGBY SEVENS VARIANT TO ENCOURAGE SPORT PARTICIPATION

8th August 2016 - AUSTRALIAN RUGBY SEEKS NEW SUPER RUGBY SPONSOR 

13th April 2016 - NEW FIVE-YEAR ARU STRATEGIC PLAN AIMS TO BROADEN PLAYER BASE 

11th April 2016 - ARU REPORTS PATCHY PARTICIPATION PERFORMANCE AND $9.8 MILLION DEFICIT IN LAST YEAR


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