World Rugby’s coffers may be about to burst with New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew expecting this year’s event to be the highest grossing World Cup yet.
Staged across 11 cities in England and Wales, the global tournament is projected to generate over £400 million ($870 million) in revenue – $315 million more than the 2011 World Cup.
Throw in an expected £2.2 billion to the local economy, thanks to 460,000 touted overseas visitors, and its pulling power is clear.
Comparing such staggering figures to the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, where a budgeted $NZ30 million lost was absorbed, is hardly fair. The size and scale of this event, which has sold 2.4 million tickets to eclipse the 2.2 million previous best from the 2007 tournament, will be like no other.
With 48 games to be held in venues such as Wembley, which boasts a capacity of 90,000, Twickenham (82,000), Olympic Park (54,000) and Millennium Stadium (74,500), the eighth edition of the World Cup is a licence to print money.
“I like to think we did our bit in growing the tournament but the reality is you’re playing an event in a major European city. They’ve got big venues and the ability to price accordingly and the hospitality industry here is incredibly vibrant. Every angle you look at this tournament is all set up more revenue than we did in New Zealand,” Tew told Fairfax Media.
“This one is going to make a substantial profit and it is forecast to be above the initial numbers. Twickenham is a money press after all.”
All 20 teams that qualify for the World Cup earn a one-off £150,000 participation payment. In addition, the top 10 nations are paid about £7.5 million as compensation for lost revenue from the June and November internationals.
That figure almost doubled in 2012 after New Zealand Rugby threatened to pull the All Blacks out of this World Cup unless changes were made to the financial model.
While NZR has sound income from broadcast (35 per cent) and commercial (30 per cent), the World Cup provides another major windfall.
“The participation fee and compensation were increased after 2011 to a point we feel comfortable,” Tew said.
“We’re excited that this tournament by all forecasts will exceed everyone’s expectations in terms of revenue.
“That will go into World Rugby’s coffers and it will be up to them how they invest that over the next four years. There’s plenty to call on the money with the growth in sevens and countries that don’t have as much commercial clout as we do so there’s all those things to be considered.”