State of the union 2015

Media releases

Rugby unions deliver another record setting collective surplus

Bolstered by the positive effect of the British & Irish Lions tour, the 14 semi-professional and amateur rugby unions competing in the Mitre 10 Cup continue to build on the solid financial performance of the previous year

Christchurch, 10 August 2018 — After a record setting performance in the previous financial year, the Mitre 10 Cup rugby unions have built on that solid performance to deliver another record setting collective surplus for the 2017 financial year (FY17). This is according to the seventh edition of the Deloitte Sports Review: State of the Unions report released today.

The report examines the annual financial accounts of the 14 semi-professional and amateur rugby unions competing in the Mitre 10 Cup. It shows a combined collective surplus of $3.8 million for FY17. The result builds on the previous high water mark of $3.5 million achieved in FY16.

However, unlike in FY16 when every team achieved a surplus, only 11 of the 14 unions individually posted surpluses in FY17.

Deloitte partner Grant Jarrold says a key contributor to this standout financial performance was the positive effect of the British & Irish Lions tour.

“The test match fees received by the Auckland Rugby Union for hosting two of the All Black tests against the Lions at Eden Park bolstered the collective surplus for the Mitre 10 Cup unions to surpass the mark set the year before,” says Mr Jarrold.

The combined revenue earned by the 14 Mitre 10 Cup playing unions was $79.2 million for FY17, a 2.8 percent increase from FY16 combined revenue of $77.0 million.

Of the three components making up total revenue – grants and sponsorships, match related income, and other revenue – grants and sponsorships accounted for 68.6 percent of total revenue, other revenue brought in 20.4 percent of total revenue and match related income provided the remaining 10.9 percent.

Consistent with FY16, match related income had the largest percentage revenue growth with a 19.0.percent ($1.4 million) year-on-year increase. Notably Auckland’s increase in revenue carried this result as they posted a $3.0m increase in total revenue on their own. Remarkably, this means the other unions’ total revenue actually decreased by a collective $0.9m for the year. For FY17, only half of the Mitre 10 unions achieved year-on-year increase in their total revenues, compared to all unions the year before.

In FY17, the group of five Mitre 10 Cup unions that are based in the same city as Super Rugby franchises accounted for more than half of the total revenue for the first time since FY13, accounting for a combined 50.5 percent of revenue.   

Total operating expenditure for FY17 increased to $74.6 million, up 3.3 percent ($2.4 million) from FY16. This 3.3 percent increase in expenditure was proportionately greater than the corresponding 2.8 percent increase in revenue.

Of the three components making up total expenditure, team and match related costs account for 46.6 percent of total expenses, growing the game costs account for 27.1 percent and administration expenses round out the final 26.3 percent.

“Disappointingly, while total revenue increased by 2.8 percent, growing the game expenses only increased by 1.5 percent year on year,” says Mr Jarrold.

Other highlights from the Deloitte Sports Review: State of the Unions report include:

  • For the fourth year the State of the Unions report looks at the financial performance of the Heartland Championship unions. The Heartland Championship unions have shown that while last year was a standout year, sizeable surpluses are looking to be the new norm. In FY17 the Heartland unions posted a combined surplus of $473,000. This is down from the FY16 high of $622,000 but is significantly larger the surpluses from FY13 to FY15 which ranged from $34,000 to $159,000.
  • For the Mitre 10 Cup unions, collectively the number of player registrations declined by 178 (0.1 percent) from 2016 to 2017. Driving the decline was the senior grades (21 year older and over) as they decreased by over 2,000 registrations, a drop of 8.9 percent. Since 2010, the senior grades have decreased in size by 11.0 percent, driven by the drop in males of 13.8 percent, offset by the positive increase in female player registrations in the senior grades by 63.8 percent in the same period.
  • Social media continues to develop as a key channel for unions to engage with their supporters.  Overall, Facebook likes increased 6.6 percent and Twitter followers grew by 9.5 percent from July 2017 to July 2018. Instagram saw the greatest increase in percentage terms as the unions’ followers grew by 26.1 percent over the year.

“The Lions tour sparked a significant increase in commercial revenue and match day takings. Positively, this, in addition to the current broadcasting deal, has allowed New Zealand Rugby to filter a similar amount of money as the previous year to the Mitre 10 Cup and Heartland unions in order to continue to improve the game at the community level,” says Mr Jarrold.

“But looking forward to FY18, the unions need to be even more vigilant with their spending, as no new major sources of revenue are expected during the period,” he adds.

“Rugby is a community game. At its heart, everything rugby unions and clubs do relate to people. The importance of meaningful interactions with the community is vital to the viability of the nation’s favourite game.”

The full State of the Unions Deloitte Sports Review can be found at

Media contact:

Matt Huntington

Communications Manager
04 470 3771

Did you find this useful?