World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont says the sport continues to “experience record global participation growth” ©Getty Images

World Rugby, the rugby union governing body, has reported a pre-tax loss of £36.1 million ($47.5 million/€40.2 million) for 2016, the first year of its four-year business cycle.

A fair-value gain on financial assets cut the total comprehensive loss for the Dublin-based body to £24.2 million ($31.9 million/€26.9 million).

This was achieved on revenue for the year, which saw the sport return to the Olympic Games in its rugby sevens format, of £30.8 million ($40.6 million/€34.3 million).

The period brought a steep, near 20 per cent, advance in administration expenses to £28.4 million ($37.4 million/€31.6 million).

Key management compensation rose to £1.16 million ($1.53 million/€1.29 million) from £1.02 million ($1.34 million/€1.14 million) in 2015.

The year also brought a doubling in foreign exchange losses to £4.65 million ($6.12 million/€5.18 million).

World Rugby said the result was in line with its financial targets to 2020.

These foresee generation of a financial return from the 2019 Rugby World Cup of some 20 per cent less than the figure achieved in the prior cycle.

The 2019 competition is being staged in Japan, a relatively new market for the sport, whose traditional heartlands are in France, the British Commonwealth and Ireland.

World Rugby anticipates that an overall programme of £266 million ($350 million/€296 million) will be invested between 2016 and 2019, up 38 per cent from the previous four-year cycle.

Bill Beaumont, chairman, said the sport continued to “experience record global participation growth”.

The latest results, he said, would “continue to underpin our game-wide investment programme that is a proven catalyst for year-on-year participation increases.

“Our strong balance sheet will ensure that we can build a strong and sustainable global game in partnership with our unions and regional associations,” the former England lock forward added.

World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper ©Getty Images
World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper ©Getty Images

Brett Gosper, chief executive, pointed out that “all six of our worldwide partners - Emirates, Heineken, Land Rover, Société Générale, Mastercard and DHL - have renewed for Japan 2019 in record time and with record investment”.

This was, he said, “ultimately great for the development of the sport”.