30 Apr 2020

New Zealand Rugby warns of 70% hit to revenue from coronavirus

4:48 pm on 30 April 2020

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) faces a 70 percent decline in revenue in 2020 amid a global shutdown of sport due to the coronavirus, officials said.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson.

NZR chief executive Mark Robinson. Photo: Photosport

NZR chief financial officer Nicki Nicol said in a video conference the coronavirus had affected all areas of the game in New Zealand.

"At NZ Rugby we are forecasting up to a 70 percent decline in revenue," she told reporters.

"We have had to quickly adjust our cost base accordingly."

The shutdown to contain the coronavirus has frozen all rugby in New Zealand, idling hundreds of staff and players in the country's five teams that compete in Super Rugby along with sides from Australia, South Africa, Argentina and Japan.

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The All Blacks' two-test series against Wales and one-off test against Scotland scheduled in July are also expected to be postponed or cancelled, which would deliver a further hit to NZR's finances.

NZR's gloomy revenue forecast came after reporting a better-than-expected $7.4 million loss in 2019.

With 2019 a World Cup year, NZR had budgeted for an NZ$11.8 million loss from a reduced international programme but said strong results from sponsorship and licensing had helped mitigate the damage.

Revenue of $187 million in 2019 was down 1 percent on the previous year but represented a 40 percent increase compared to the previous World Cup year in 2015.

"When you consider the significant impact on broadcasting and match day revenue in a Rugby World Cup year due to a condensed international programme, the commercial income from sponsorship and licensing has been a real success story," Nicol said.

She added that cash reserves of $93 million had been a vital buffer in a year where there had been a "massive shock" to revenue.

NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson said the governing body was working with authorities to make sure rugby could "get back on the field as soon as possible."