The Australian and New Zealand rugby unions have come out in support of the International Rugby Board’s (IRB) new financial model for the World Cup.
At its annual meeting in Dublin this week, the IRB announced the formation of a working group to investigate problems associated with sponsorship restrictions that are causing a loss of earnings for some major nations at the World Cup. During its staging of last year’s World Cup the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) had warned that its participation in future events might be reconsidered if changes to the commercial structure of the tournament were not made.
Commercial issues remain a sticking point, but under the new financial model, the IRB will invest an additional £50 million in the sport worldwide between 2012 and 2015, and New Zealand stands to benefit from an extra £3 million, according to an NZRU statement. “This is on top of the £4.5 million received for the 2011 tournament, making a total of £7.5 million for RWC 2015,” it read.
NZRU chief executive Steve Tew added: “This is a great result for the development of rugby around the world. The increased distribution of RWC revenue, coupled with the ability to claw back some of the lost revenue from Test matches, is a significant help.”
Australia will also benefit from a £7.5 million windfall in 2015, and Australian Rugby Union managing director and CEO John O’Neill said: “We are far better placed now. If there is a move more towards the FIFA World Cup model where the commercial partners of national unions can have association at training, on training kit, and on media backdrops for instance, it will be a significant fillip for them. Overall, the financial package and the potential for some relaxation around the commercial rules is very satisfying. We have worked hard for these outcomes.”
Leading unions back IRB’s World Cup proposal