The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) has reported an operating surplus of €5.9 million for the year ending 31st July 2022 following Friday afternoon’s EGM at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.

This compared positively to what had been a forecast deficit of €4.9 million. Writing in the introduction to the accounts Honorary Treasurer Ray Ryan puts this down to the return to full stadia and a corresponding rise in matchday income, but most importantly to the €18 million of Special Covid assistance from the government.

He also raises the receipt of the €44.6 million that represents the proceeds of the sale of 14 percent of the net revenues generated in future years by Six Nations to CVC.

The hope and belief here is that the focus and expertise of the new partners will raise income by more than this and ultimately prove to be good for all concerned. It is recognised though that as a fresh income line in terms of cash it has come “at an opportune time.”

The Union had registered losses over the two years of Covid’s greatest impact amounting to just short of €47 million so the turning of a corner was welcomed, even if there is a substantial way to travel to get back to hoped for levels of money to invest in the game.

“Our key message today is that in relation to the finances of the IRFU, following a torrid period due to the impact of Covid-19, the ship has been stabilised,” said CEO Kevin Potts presenting his first Annual Report in the role.

“There is however a cost to this, in terms of dilution of the IRFU’s assets, together with a negative impact on our future cash flow, but we have survived and are now endeavouring to rebuild our financial resources to pre-Covid-19 levels.”

“Without the receipt of the Government grant, the Union would have reported an operating deficit of over €9m for the year. I want to acknowledge and thank the Government for their critical support during Covid-19, without which rugby, as we know it on this island, would have struggled to survive.”

In relation to the money received by CVC’s purchase of 14 percent of the Six Nations and the United Rugby Championship, Potts continued that

“The proceeds from the URC and Six Nations CVC transactions are very welcome at an opportune time but will result in a permanent reduction in the IRFU’s share of income from these tournaments into the future.”

@19 million of the transaction value has been received to date and, together with advance ten-year ticket and corporate biox sales does leave €66 million cash reserves in the bank.

Operating income across the sport increased from €84 million to €116 million.

The income from international rugby matches rose to €43.8 million this year having dipped to €27.7 million in 2020 and €25.8 million. By way of comparison, the figure in 2019 was €39.6 million and in 2018 42.2 million

There was a significant bounce back in commercial revenues, made up of sponsorship, media rights, and advertising from €10.0 million in the full year of Covid to July 2021 to €12.7 million in the year ended this July. This figure is always dependent on the phasing of payments but also by way of comparison came in at an average of 10.9 million over the three years leading up to 2019, so another positive move in the right direction.

The costs of the professional game increased in terms of the line items with additional monies going into each level from the U20s and the Women’s to the Men’s, Sevens, and High-Performance centre.

All of the warehoused Tax debts from the Covid years have been paid in full.

The annual report is always about so much more than the numbers though they naturally take the headlines.

Over the coming days, we will look at other areas within the Report, looking at how the sport is positioning itself with regard to key areas of development.

CEO Kevin Potts finished off his presentation by looking to the positive.

“Through their enormous hard work our Men’s National Team have reached the number one ranking in the world and in a magnificent Test match last weekend defeated the World Champions, South Africa.”

“We have signed professional contracts in the Women’s Game and will be publishing the findings of the Women in Rugby report shortly.”

“Our male Under-20 side are the Grand Slam champions, our Men’s 7s team recently took a bronze medal in the Rugby World Cup, and the last seasons Energia All-Ireland League Men’s and Women’s finals were outstanding advertisements for our club game.”

“These successes highlight that there is much to be positive about in Irish Rugby at this time, but we continue to recognise the enormous body of work, across a range of challenges, still to be tackled.”

“Though the IRFU is forecasting deficits for the next three years, it is the IRFU’s firm intention that Irish Rugby will continue to operate on a sustainable basis, only spending funds that it either has or can predict with relative certainty. This makes for challenging times, but I do believe Irish Rugby will rise to these challenges.”