World Rugby, the global governing body of rugby union, has posted better-than-forecast financial results for 2016 after securing a number of commercial deals during the year.
Revenue amounted to £30.8m (€34.1m/$40.4m) in the 12 months to December 31, 2016, compared to £344.9m in 2015, a World Cup year during which World Rugby was able to achieve record revenue.
World Rugby said revenue in 2016 was boosted by sponsorship and broadcast contracts signed in the year in which the rugby sevens format featured for the first time at the summer Olympic Games at Rio 2016.
The organisation posted a loss of £36.1m for 2016, as adjusted for International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which World Rugby operates in line with global best practice. However, loss before this adjustment totalled £19.3m, which World Rugby said is “substantially” better than initial forecasts due to a series of commercial deals.
World Rugby is aiming for record investment commitment of £266m during the four-year period from 2016 to 2019 – culminating in the World Cup in Japan – and after the better-than-expected results from 2016, the body said it is on track to achieve this target.
A commitment to a record investment of £69m to rugby this year is in place, while the organisation has also seen record investment in both the women’s 15s and sevens formats.
Bill Beaumont (pictured), chairman of World Rugby, said: “World Rugby’s strategic mission is to grow the global game and following a very special Rugby World Cup 2015 that generated record revenues for reinvestment in the global game, World Rugby invested unprecedented sums in global development, competitions, high-performance programmes, player welfare, anti-doping and a multi-million pound investment in the women's game during 2016.
“World Rugby is currently on track to meet its financial targets for the four-year business cycle to 2020. Rugby continues to experience record global participation growth and these financial results continue to underpin our game-wide investment programme that is a proven catalyst for year-on-year participation increases.
“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, competitions, high performance and assistance with preparation costs for Rugby World Cup 2019.”