Rugby Australia $9 million in the red, and worst to come for once-great game

Rugby Australia has announced a $9.2 million deficit for the 2023 financial year amid forecasts of more challenging times to come before the governing body hits the jackpot with a British and Irish Lions series and two home World Cups in three years.

Apr 30, 2024, updated Apr 30, 2024
Allan Alaalatoa during an Australian Wallabies training session. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

Allan Alaalatoa during an Australian Wallabies training session. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

The considerable loss was partly due to $11.5 million being invested during a World Cup year, including an unapproved $2.6 million overspend on Eddie Jones’s disastrous campaign in France.

The results were revealed following RA’s annual general meeting in Sydney on Monday.

The year also included a $4.9 million reduction in revenue, largely due to lower match-day income as a result of only being able to host two Wallabies Tests in the World Cup year, compared with six in 2022.

RA said additional high-performance investment in the Wallabies, Wallaroos and Australia A programs, increased spending in Super W, and higher player payments reflecting 2023 being the first year of a new collective bargaining agreement, contributed to the deficit.

The governing body reported an uplift in participation across clubs and schools, with significant increases in young people taking up the game.

There has also been a 16 per cent rise in female participation as professional opportunities in the women’s game continue to grow.

In the third year of RA’s broadcast partnership with Stan Sport and Nine, free-to-air viewership for Saturday night Super Rugby games was up 15 per cent on 2022’s average, while club rugby viewing figures also increased, RA said.

The Wallaroos were the growth standout of RA’s digital channels, with an increase in video views of more than 500 per cent, while the sevens teams also proved popular.

RA boss Phil Waugh said while he expected 2024 to also be difficult, the future looked positive – anchored by ticket sales for next year’s British and Irish Lions tour.

“From a revenue perspective, 2024 will be another challenging year given we have had to take on the unplanned cost of the Melbourne Rebels,” Waugh said.

InQueensland in your inbox. The best local news every workday at lunch time.
By signing up, you agree to our User Agreement andPrivacy Policy & Cookie Statement. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

“We have set a clear path forward … to ensure a thriving future for Australian rugby.”

Waugh was unable to give a time line for a decision on the future of the cash-strapped Rebels as anxiety grows at the club, refusing to guarantee a call would be made before the end of the season.

“Ideally it will be,” he said.

“I acknowledge it is a frustrating time and we do want to accelerate the decision. There’s a lot of inputs that go into that.

“One of the ones that I did talk about was the administration process, and creditors are meeting this Friday, as well as other inputs including broadcast implications.

“We haven’t finalised all those inputs yet, however we understand the urgency and the time pressure given staff finish at the end of end of June and players need certainty, as do staff, for 2025 and beyond.

“I don’t want to anchor ourselves to a date except for the fact that we need to acknowledge that the sooner the better.”

Local News Matters
Copyright © 2024 InQueensland.
All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy