CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - OCTOBER 31: South African Rugby Union chief executive, Jurie Roux during the  RWC 2023 Media Conference at Imbizo Media Centre, Parliament on October 31, 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
SA Rugby Releases 2020 Financial Results

SA Rugby has released its results for the 2020 financial year.

It saw the governing body post a modest loss of only R7.9m in 2020, despite enduring a 45% decline in revenues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Group revenues declined to R710 million (compared to the R1.29 billion of the previous year) in a year in which only South Africa and Japan (of Tier One rugby nations) did not play a match.

The fall was caused by cuts in broadcast and sponsorship income, while the cancellation of the Test programme and the HSBC Cape Town Sevens – among other things – meant zero income was realised from major events.

The eventual decline in revenue was matched by reductions in expenditure achieved through rugby-wide collaboration between SA Rugby, the South African Rugby Employers’ Organisation (SAREO – representing the provincial unions), MyPlayers (the players’ representative organisation) and Sport Employees’ Unite (employees’ trade union).

The SA Rugby Covid Industry Mitigation Plan focused on a worst-case scenario of cutting up to R1.2bn from rugby’s ‘global’ budget by reducing expenditure (49.7% of savings) and cuts in other operational budgets (37.3%) and salary reductions (13%). The plan led to cuts amounting to 25% of total remuneration across the industry.

The Annual Financial Statements were approved at the Union’s AGM, with the meeting hearing that the SA Rugby group reported a R1.5m profit, benefitting from income realised from subsidiary SA Rugby Travel.

“By the end of the year it was a triumph to still be in business,” said Jurie Roux, SA Rugby CEO. “SA Rugby did not have the reserves to ride out the storm without any impact, nor were government bailouts available. It took a unique collaboration across the industry to arrive at a drastic cost cutting plan to keep the sport afloat. We have managed to avoid widespread job losses or racking up the losses of some of our international peers, but it requires on-going austerity and extreme financial vigilance to maintain what is a precarious position.”

“Unfortunately, the austerity measures will have to continue,” said Roux. “The unforgiving truth at the elite end of the sport is that we are in the entertainment business and our product is rugby matches and the 365-day-year story that surrounds them. Without matches and an audience we have little or no income and until we return to a situation where venues are allowed 100% capacity we will remain under extreme financial pressure.”

Roux said that he expected the Springboks to play a schedule of 14 Tests in 2021 – two more than usual.

“We have weathered Covid’s first storm and the return of our national teams and the arrival of the British & Irish Lions will be a great psychological boost. However, I cannot stress enough, we remain on a financial tightrope which will require careful management and financial restraint to survive,” said Roux.

Sport Industry Group
Sport Industry Group

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