Record Investment by WRU in Welsh Rugby

The Welsh Rugby Union Group turned over £97.0m last year, up from £74.9m the prior year and representing a 30% increase in revenue - allowing it to re-invest a record £42.8m across the game in Wales.

Martyn Bicknell | 19/09/2018

The WRU’s Annual Report provides a breakdown of the Group’s financial performance during the year ending 30 June 2018 (“YE18”), of which Dragons are now are part following the 2017 takeover. The report shows match income from the Group’s core economic driver, international men’s rugby union, has increased, by £9.9m (to £44.9m). 

CLICK HERE for link to Annual Report YE18

The significant upturn has allowed for record re-investment across the whole of Welsh rugby as well as the retention of £2.3m in profit, part of contingency planning to maintain levels of investment in YE19 where revenues are forecast to decrease

“Our latest set of positive financial results are an endorsement of our strategy and testament to the high level of commitment and hard work of everyone involved in Welsh rugby,” said WRU CEO Martyn Phillips.

“We have guarded against a boom and bust scenario by putting money aside to cover for a projected loss next year, whilst continuing to improve re-investment throughout the game at all levels.

“The nature of our business means that our revenues fluctuate to quite a significant extent year on year.

“However our ambition is always to maintain, if not grow our investment into all levels of rugby, hence our objective is to allocate modest and welcome increases each year. We know that rugby responds best to affordable, sustainable and reliable increases.

“Whilst we also know that our investments are often viewed through a lens that splits contributions between professional and community rugby, in reality one cannot exist without the other.

“Our investments in clubs and communities safeguard the long term future of the game. Our investments in professional rugby are made with an ambition to drive success on the pitch which in turn drives our revenues.

“Both are interdependent and so, to a degree, any investment is an investment in all forms of rugby.

"It is our key focus to ensure every component of Welsh rugby is sustained as we target success in our senior professional game, to increase participation and engagement across the whole game in Wales and to ensure success off the pitch in the business of sport, event and venue management.

“We know that it is a tough environment out there and that, whilst some clubs are thriving, others are feeling the strain and new impetus in the year ahead will be provided to helping those clubs who are struggling.

“We have had a record year for non-rugby event revenue and will continue to drive this side of our business with new event formats being explored.

“But, whilst we have had a good year financially, we haven’t shied away from making the more difficult decisions and removing previous compromises – a move that will benefit the future sustainability of our game.                                       

“Our core purpose focuses on laying long term foundations to deliver a sustainable future for rugby in Wales.”

The re-investment in Welsh rugby of £42.8m is shared amongst the community game, which is up from £8.7m to £9.1m; performance rugby (managing age-grade structures, the national 7s sides, player development referee costs, national centre of excellence and insurance), up from £5.2m to £5.5m; and the regional game.

The Report includes the Dragons for the first time as they now form part of the WRU Group, with the Group having acquired the relevant trade and assets and all of the land and other assets at Rodney Parade in late June 2017.

The other three Welsh rugby Regions, Cardiff Blues, Ospreys and Scarlets received £20.5m between them whereas in YE17 £21.0m was divided between all four entities.

In his Chief Executive Report, Martyn Phillips comments, "The Dragons run as an independent subsidiary with its own board and have started the rebuilding process on and off the pitch at the Region.

"The key focus has been to put the right foundations in place, either through coach and squad strengthening or reviewing overall management and infrastructure. With this work largely complete, next season will be about continued evolution, resulting in improved performance on the pitch and improved commercial performance off it.

"We have been engaged in ‘Project Reset’ for much of the year. The purpose of the project is to
implement a strategy whereby the five professional entities (Wales and the four Regions) work together to ensure that, to borrow from Aristotle, ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’
"In effect, we are five interdependent entities and, the project is yet to conclude but, the key principles are increased collaboration from a rugby and commercial perspective and to
share to drive productivity improvements.

"Whilst we have explored multiple methods, we believe that the answer lies in clarifying what should be worked on together and, conversely, what is best achieved independently. We will collaborate effectively and find a way to work more closely whilst still preserving the identity and tribalism necessary.

"The challenge will be to preserve the fundamental elements of our sport - which pit us, necessarily, against each other in competition at different times – during this collaboration process, but I am confident this can be achieved."

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