The Irish Rugby Football Union today presented its 2013/14 Annual Report and Accounts, reporting a 7.3 million euro surplus due to improved GUINNESS Series ticket sales and increased prize-monies thanks to a better than 'budgeted' finish in the RBS 6 Nations Championship and another year of strong provincial performances.
This success resulted in a smaller than expected cash deficit of €1 million (versus €4.5 million in 2012/13) after non-cash items, such as depreciation and amortised income, were accounted for.
The strong financial performance will allow for increased provincial and domestic game funding and an additional €1million investment in the Union's club loan scheme.
However, Honorary Treasurer Tom Grace urged caution based on the fragility of the wider economic recovery and the potential impact of changes to 'free-to-air' broadcasting rules and possible limitations to sports sponsorships agreements.
Presenting the accounts, Grace said: "As the economy slowly finds its feet the Irish people continue to get behind their team, and we were very pleased with the increased ticket sales for the 2013 GUINNESS Series.
"Success off the pitch was matched by big performances on it and the RBS 6 Nations prize money, in particular, has provided a welcome boost.
"The 2013/14 season demonstrated once again that supporting the national team at the Aviva (Stadium) enables the IRFU to continue to make significant funds available to the professional and domestic games."
Five Irish sporting legends - Sonia O'Sullivan, Tony McCoy, Barry McGuigan, Henry Shefflin and Niall Quinn - visited Ireland camp on Wednesday evening for a memorable get-together with the squad. Ireland team manager Michael Kearney fills us in.
All 31 players trained fully at Newport High School this morning as the Ireland squad stepped up their preparations for Sunday's Pool D showdown with France. Check out some photos from today's session.
Speaking ahead of Ireland's crunch clash with France, scrum half Eoin Reddan said: "Everyone trained very hard today. Obviously we've a huge game at the weekend. We're all in no doubt about how much it means to people back home, and how much it means to us here."