The New Zealand Rugby Union have revealed that next year’s British and Irish Lions tour will be crucial to their finances and underpins their five-year plan to break even by 2020.
New Zealand are the most successful rugby team in the world and have won back to back Rugby World Cups but in 2015 New Zealand Rugby (NZR) lost NZ$463,000 (US$320,000).
NZR was expecting to lose NZ$955,000 but they will pour NZ$10 million this year into provincial unions to grow the game.
Chairman Brent Impey said the NZR was still in a “favourable financial position” with cash reserves of NZ$59.1 million, but it needed to find ways to generate extra revenue.
“We face a revenue challenge if we hope to continue growing investment in the game,” he said in a statement.
“We are forecasting losses in four of the five years, with the exception being next year with the British and Irish Lions.”
“Our aim is to reach break-even over the period, but it is clear already that this will be a big challenge.”
The NZR’s annual report did not provide a breakdown of projected losses or how much next year’s Lions tour is expected to bolster the bottom line.
However, it said last year that demand was set to exceed the composite team’s last tour in 2005, when 20,000 travelling fans created a boisterous atmosphere and injected an estimated NZ$135 million into the economy.
No Lions squad has won a series in New Zealand since 1971. Next year’s tourists face a packed 10-match schedule, including three Tests against the All Blacks.