New Zealand Rugby, the organisation behind the All Blacks, the sport’s most revered brand, has reported a small loss of NZ$1.86 million ($1.24 million/£956,000/€1.11 million) for the 2018 financial year.
This compares with a NZ$33.4 million ($22.3 million/£17.2 million/€19.9 million) profit for 2017.
Income was also down, from NZ$257.3 million ($172.1 million/£132.3 million/€153.1 million) to NZ$189.5 million ($126.8 million/£97.4 million/€112.8 million).
A written commentary on the result signed by Brent Impey, chair, and Steve Tew, chief executive, noted that while they were “pleased” with the outcome, “these are still challenging times for rugby… our long-term financial projections still show us spending more money than we are earning.”
The officials continued: “While the upcoming broadcast deal and advancements in digital technology will provide us with short-term revenue gains, the costs of our game continue to escalate… there are no silver bullets.”
Commenting on the country’s successful bid to host the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup, the two men said they could not “overstate how much of a highlight it was to be in Dublin for the announcement”.
New Zealand was chosen to stage the event by World Rugby at its Council meeting in the Irish capital last November, beating only rivals Australia by 25 votes to 17.
Broadcast rights remained the biggest source of income for New Zealand Rugby in 2018, generating NZ$73.3 million ($49 million/£37.7 million/€43.6 million), down from NZ$104.6 million ($70 million/£53.8 million/€62.2 million) the previous year.
Sponsorship and licensing income was not far behind, at NZ$68.1 million ($45.6 million/£35 million/€40.5 million), up from NZ$62.5 million ($41.8 million/£32.1 million/€37.2 million).
Match-day income fell to NZ$28.1 million ($18.8 million/£14.4 million/€16.7 million), down from NZ$64.6 million ($43.2 million/£33.2 million/€38.4 million).
On the expenditure side, administration accounted for only NZ$13.3 million ($8.9 million/£6.8 million/€7.9 million) – or around seven per cent – of the total of NZ$191.4 million ($128 million/£98.4 million/€113.9 million) for 2018.
Game development absorbed NZ$31.6 million ($21.1 million/£16.2 million/€18.8 million), while competitions accounted for NZ$88.5 million ($59.2 million/£45.5 million/€52.7 million) and so-called “teams in black” NZ$57.3 million ($38.3 million/£29.5 million/€34.1 million).
The men’s team will attempt to secure a third consecutive World Cup victory, and a record fourth overall, in Japan later this year.