The New Zealand Rugby (NZR) governing body recorded a loss of NZ8.9 million ($5.4 million) in 2023, a significant improvement on the equivalent 2022 figure.

Despite revenue actually falling year-on-year for the year ending December 31, 2023 – down from NZ270.4 million to NZ267.8 million – the loss in 2023 compares favorably to a deficit of NZ47.4 million the prior year.

In terms of income last year, the most profitable sector for NZR was sponsorship and licensing, bringing in NZ120.9 million, up from NZ113.2 million the prior year.

While this sector saw a rise in revenue, income from broadcast rights and match days went the other way, however, with both falling year-on-year. Broadcast rights payments went from NZ102.3 million to NZ85.9 million, while matchday income fell from NZ28.3 million to NZ17.1 million (a 39% drop).

That last sector saw income fall because of the Rugby World Cup taking place last year, which meant New Zealand hosted fewer international matches than in years when that quadrennial tournament is not on.

From the NZ276 million of expenditure, meanwhile, competitions run by NZR cost NZ125.4 million as opposed to NZ136.7 million, while administration expenses rose year-on-year – from NZ15.4 million to NZ21.9 million.

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Last year, the NZR reserve funds jumped from NZ96 million to NZ175 million, with NZR having set aside almost NZ120 million for that purpose.

In terms of 2023 operating activities, meanwhile, NZR launched NZR+, its new globally available streaming platform covering exclusive behind-the-scenes content, and also appointed Craig Fenton to lead its new commercial arm.

Mark Robinson, chief executive at New Zealand Rugby, has said: "Our commercial income and sponsor support remained at historical highs in 2023, balancing out some of the downside of matchday income in a Rugby World Cup year."

Jo Perez, chief financial officer at NZR, added: “Crucially, we have strengthened our balance sheet, which provides both resilience against future shocks, and also enables targeted strategic investment. We have more work to do balancing the books as we move toward a sustainable financial model, while investing in commercial opportunities here and offshore, sustained high performance, and communities.”

Robinson added: “There is much to be optimistic about as we turn our focus to broadcast negotiations, a new players collective agreement, and some exciting future opportunities around international competitions.”

On the pitch, New Zealand's men's national team, the iconic All Blacks, made it to the final of the 2023 RWC, before losing to South Africa.