IRB announces record investment programme

(IRB.COM) Thursday 13 June 2013
 IRB announces record investment programme
Romania and Russia in action in the 2013 IRB Nations Cup

- IRB investment in the Game at record levels as participation grows worldwide
- Rugby World Cup commercial revenues driving global growth
- Rugby World Cup 2015 commercial programme on track
- Loss of £35.5m in line with planned 2012 operating loss

The International Rugby Board has reaffirmed its commitment to growing the global Game by announcing a record investment programme for 2013, the first year of its new four year (2013-16) funding cycle, despite recording a planned operating loss in 2012.

Funding invested and utilised by the IRB in 2013, excluding Rugby World Cup 2015 related expenditure, will total £47m, including investment in Fifteens and Sevens Rugby for men and women, through strategic (high performance) initiatives, development grants to Member Unions and Regional Associations, tournaments, training and education programmes, player welfare, anti-doping, anti-corruption and administration of the Game. It is anticipated that the core investment will remain at approximately this level throughout the four-year cycle, implying a forecast investment over the new four-year cycle of at least £184m, eclipsing the previous cycle's £150m by £34m or 23 per cent.

Within this investment, the IRB will continue its commitment to increasing competitiveness of the elite international Game via its Strategic Investment Programme, the third phase of which will see a renewed £44m investment over four years.

This global distribution of high performance funding, which supports specific projects within, and tournaments for, targeted RWC level Unions, has been the catalyst for an 18 per cent increase in global participation between 2007 and 2011.

The IRB's Group Consolidated Financial Statements for the year ended 31 December 2012 show a net loss for the period of just below £36m, as adjusted for International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which the IRB operates in line with global best practice. Under IRFS, the IRB defer revenues and direct expenditures for RWC 2015 until the year of the tournament. The net loss would have been £24m if IRFS had not been applied and all RWC 2015 income and expenditure had not been deferred.

These results are in line with expectations, following a prudent cost reduction and reallocation programme across all aspects of the IRB Group over the past four years. Revenues for the Rugby World Cup 2015 commercial programme are currently in line with budget are being monitored closely. The IRB also acknowledges the strong continued support of HSBC as the title sponsor for the HSBC Sevens World Series.


IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “Rugby continues to grow across every continent despite the challenging global economic climate and the IRB is committed to ensuring that the sport, through its two disciplines of Fifteens and Sevens, has the foundations from which to further prosper and reach out to major new markets, while keeping our base strong.”

“We are committed to ongoing investment in our Unions, at all levels, and continue to collaborate with them to ensure that we service and support their strategic needs. We are delighted to be rolling out an unprecedented investment in competitions for Tier Two and Three Unions to enable them to benchmark performance, win rankings points and have the best possible preparation for RWC 2015 qualifying and participation and further ahead towards Japan 2019.”

“These record levels of investment are made possible because of the continued growth of Rugby World Cup as one of the world’s most successful, best-loved and largest major sporting event, providing the IRB with the long-term financial platform to sustainably develop and grow the Game around the world.”

IRB Chief Financial Officer Robert Brophy added: “The IRB’s commitment to record development reflects the organisation’s diligence towards maintaining reduced operating costs and a robust long-term strategic commitment to growth and targeted investment in the Game through the £44m Strategic Investment Programme for the period 2013-2016. We are also investing separately in the men’s and women’s Sevens Game as we countdown to our Olympic Games return at Rio in 2016.”

Investment highlights in 2012 included: increased funding for Tier Two and Tier Three Unions to access a further defined match schedule during the November International Test window designed to increase competitiveness between Rugby World Cups; introduction of the IRB International Rugby Series within the November window; the reintroduction of Tier One Union tours to the Pacific Islands, Japan and North America (to play Tier Two Unions at home); the inauguration of the IRB Women's Sevens World Series and the expansion of the HSBC Sevens World Series to include a stop in Tokyo; and the introduction of Get Into Rugby, a new programme introduced worldwide by the IRB to allow improved access to the Game for children.

The increased investment in Rugby Sevens via the introduction of the IRB Women’s World Series comes at a time when Sevens is growing at an unparalleled rate. Moscow will host Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013, a new market for the Rugby World Cup brand, while Cali in Colombia will host Rugby Sevens final appearance in the World Games as the sport builds toward its first appearance in the Olympic Games in Rio 2016. The IRB is also assisting its six Regional Associations to grow each of their respective Sevens series and championships between now and 2016.

The Rugby World Cup brand is at an all-time high and with preparations on track to deliver an outstanding Rugby World Cup 2015 in England with a strong commercial and rights protection programme in place, the IRB is confident that it will achieve its budgeted surplus to inject a further significant boost to the development of the Game at all levels after 2015.

Lapasset added: "Following on from the resounding success of Rugby World Cup 2011 in the comparatively smaller market of New Zealand, the commercial programme for Rugby World Cup 2015 in England is currently on course to meet expectations on net surplus which is very encouraging for the development of Rugby worldwide.”