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Success and investment in New Zealand rugby in 2015 celebrated at AGM

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Success and investment in New Zealand rugby in 2015 celebrated at AGM

  • Provincial Unions to receive additional $9m a year
  • Call for increased diversity in rugby
  • Sir Graham Henry elected Life Member of New Zealand Rugby

New Zealand rugby was in good heart after a successful 2015 on the field and off the field where the financial foundation of the game was strengthened, said New Zealand Rugby Chairman Brent Impey speaking at the organisation’s 124th AGM held in Wellington this morning.

“We have enjoyed incredible successes and achieved what has never been achieved before  on the field,” he said reflecting on a year where the All Blacks won historic back-to-back World Cups, New Zealand Under 20 were world champions, the Highlanders were Investec Super Rugby victors and an increase in women’s participation drove registrations above the 150,000 mark again, were amongst other notable achievements.

“Financially, we are in a strong position, with record levels of income and healthy reserves. We also confirmed the Provincial Union Funding Model, which will see 30 per cent more money invested at community and provincial levels from 2016.”

The investment equates to approximately $9m annually and follows confirmation of the broadcast contracts for another five-year period.

As previously announced, New Zealand Rugby recorded a loss of $463,000. Cash reserves closed the year at $59.1 million slightly down on 2014.

Impey said despite the favourable financial position, greater levels of investment were required.

“We face a revenue challenge if we hope to continue growing investment in the game. We are forecasting losses in four of the five years, the exception being next year with the British & Irish Lions. Our aim is to reach breakeven over the period, but it is clear already that this will be a big challenge.

“We are anticipating a loss of more than $10 million in 2016, which is largely the result of the commitment we made to Provincial Unions through the funding review.”

He said NZR was looking at ways to generate revenue from the growing digital part of the business and further commercial opportunities. This involved exploring offshore partnerships and investments, and promoting other national teams into growth markets such as Asia and North America.

“This will inevitably involve some risk, but to maintain our leadership in the game, we must be prepared to take advantage of the right opportunities,” he said.

The 2015 Annual Report is available at www.nzrugby.co.nz or here.

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Call for gender diversity
Impey urged rugby to do more to promote women into governance positions.

“If we pride ourselves on being world leaders, which we are on and off the field, gender on the New Zealand Rugby Board will become a point of significant external criticism if we fail to deal with it. This becomes even more compelling considering the increased women participation numbers, and the anticipated growth in women’s sevens post Rio.”

Nearly 20,000 women and girls play rugby, 30 per cent up on 2012 levels. There are no women on the NZR Board, though three women have been co-opted to each of the Board committees.

“In order to drive revenue to then reinvest into the game, we will need partnerships, such as with governments or other organisations, for example Sport New Zealand. It’s hard not to see that – at some point – we will come under pressure to address gender diversity on our board from government if we want funding.

“We can’t ignore the issue – or the opportunity, it will continue to be a barrier to real progress if we don’t. If we want to be leaders, then we must address it,” he said.

Impey called for a joint Board, NZR management and Provincial Union working group be set up to examine options in more depth ahead of reaching agreement over the way forward within the year. This could include constitutional change to allow an additional appointed Member or having candidates come via the elected process.

NZR rated 80/100 in 2015 Scoreboard
NZR’s performance is measured against a range of indicators aligned to the Towards 2016 Strategy. In 2015 the organisation achieved a score of 80/100 compared to 79/100 for 2014, a result which is just under NZR’s five year average of 81.

“We were pleased to achieve everything we set out to in terms of the All Blacks and ensuring rugby is financially healthy,” said NZR Chief Executive Steve Tew.

“We recorded a number of other successes, with strong growth and performance in women’s rugby a real highlight. But we missed a number of targets, particularly in the Wider Auckland region and the community game.  We’ll always set ambitious targets, because that’s what we do as an organisation, but knowing they were going to be hard to achieve doesn’t reduce our disappointment at failing to achieve them.”

In Auckland, NZR set a single target of five per cent growth in registered player number, but did not achieve that.

“Despite that, we delivered a number of important new initiatives that should result in increased participation in the future. Auckland remains an important priority and we’ll continue to support activity that makes rugby the sport of choice for people across this large region, in close partnership with the three Unions and the Blues,” he said.

Election of Board Members
There were two elected Board Member vacancies in 2016 with existing members Graham Cooney and Mark Robinson standing for re-election alongside candidates, Manawatu Rugby Chairman Steve Morris and former Buller Rugby Chairman Erik Westergaard.

Robinson was re-elected to the Board and Morris was also successful and becomes a new Board Member for a three year term.

Impey paid tribute to Cooney and thanked him for his contribution.

“You came to the role in 2010 bringing considerable governance experience both with the Highlanders and Southland Rugby, coupled with your commercial background as Chairman of Blue Sky Meats and the Southern Institute of Technology. You have made a valuable contribution using your keen knowledge of rugby and business matters to great effect as the board dealt with many opportunities and challenges during your time as director.”

The Appointments and Remuneration Committee  re-appointed Impey as a Member. He was also re-elected Chairman by the Board following the AGM.

Sir Graham Henry new Life Member
Rugby World Cup 2011 winning Head Coach Sir Graham Henry was elected Life Member of New Zealand Rugby. Henry, who was knighted in 2012 for his services to the game, became a professional coach in 1996, coaching, Auckland, the Blues, Wales and the British and Irish Lions before steering the All Blacks to their second World Cup triumph.

“I feel very privileged to be elected Life Member, it is a very elite club,” said Sir Graham on being elected.

Former All Blacks captain Sir Brian Lochore who coached the 1987 Rugby World Cup winning team, was re-elected as Patron. He was elected as Patron for the first time in 2013 when he was also made a Life Member.

New Board Member bio

Steve Morris

  • Chairman Manawatu Rugby Union 2010-2016
  • Director Hurricanes 2011-2012
  • Head of Animal Production and Livestock Group, Institute of Veterinary Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University

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