A historic year for Irish Rugby on the pitch has resulted in a quicker-than-forecast return to profit for the Irish Rugby Football Union, who will report a 1.2 million euro surplus for 2017/18 at today’s Annual Council Meeting in the Aviva Stadium.
The IRFU had budgeted for a deficit of over 4 million euro for the 2017/18 season, due to the anticipated net costs of hosting the Women’s Rugby World Cup and the bid to host Rugby World Cup 2023 together with increasing the investment in the domestic game and the player development pathway.
After posting a 2.8 million loss for 2016/17, the IRFU forecast it would not return to break-even until 2018/19. However, the Grand Slam win for Ireland’s men, Champions Cup glory for Leinster and the advancement of Munster to two semi-finals resulted in significant financial improvement for the Union.
In one of the most successful seasons ever recorded for Irish teams, IRFU revenues rose by 9.1 million (to over 85.7 million) with 6.3 million of this increase attributable to the international team and 2 million derived from provincial team activities.
Expenditure at national team and provincial level increased to over 42 million inclusive of bonuses payable to players for international and provincial success.
Expenditure on elite player development increased to 10.8 million due to increased investment in the Academies and High Performance areas together with the net costs of hosting Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017.
In total, over 3 million was spent on Women’s rugby at the elite level compared with just under 2.2 million in 2016/17. Expenditure on the domestic game accounted for 13% of the overall spend (10.6 million, an increase of almost 0.7 million from 2016/17).
Putting the results into context, IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne said: “The 2017/18 season was a record-breaking one in terms of team and financial performance, and it is thanks to Joe Schmidt and his management team, the provincial management teams and all the players, as well as the loyal and ever increasing number of supporters who attend games, purchase merchandise and drive our teams on to winning performances.
“The financing of the game has become increasingly important in the context of competing with international clubs who have deep pockets. Keeping our best players in our player management system has helped to deliver success and I congratulate (IRFU Performance Director) David Nucifora and all our provinces for making the Irish system so attractive to players.
“Success is never guaranteed, and for that reason we must always be careful how we distribute funding across all aspects of the game. Given the political and economic uncertainty in the world at the moment, and as a number of the provinces are expecting that finances will be very tight next year, we must continue to ensure we don’t live beyond our means.”