French Rugby president Bernard Laporte has warned that world rugby is on the brink of financial ruin unless urgent steps are taken.
Laporte’s comments follow recent announcements of losses by the Australian, South African, New Zealand, Scottish and Italian Rugby Unions alongside plans to cut three Super Rugby franchises due to SANZAAR “hemorrhaging cash”.
The FFR president was in Dubai yesterday to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the UAE Rugby Federation, including plans for the French national team to play the world champion All Blacks in the UAE in November 2018.
“I arrive in five months (as president of FFR) and I see Australia – financial problems, Italian – financial problem, Scotland – financial problem. I think it is not fantastic” said Laporte.
“It is really important that we are looking carefully at this situation today. Not only to speak nice way about very strong powers. Rugby is a strong sport in the world. It is right that the Rugby World Cup is the third (biggest) sporting event in the world.
“But if you are looking carefully at the financial position of some unions, we have to be vigilant how to try and change this economic model to try to develop the financial income.
“A lot of international unions are losing money every year, if you look at general assembly of South Africa, New Zealand, Australia – not two weeks ago they lost two million, three million, six million.
“Everyone knows that if today you don’t have strong financial (position) you can’t support development of one sport. So we need to watch this.”
Laporte denied that his remarks were a criticism of World Rugby, the sport’s global governing body.
The organisation is in rude financial health with their most recently-published financial results showing pre-tax profits of $241.4m following record revenues of $445.3m aided by 2015 being a World Cup year.
“It is not the fault of World Rugby,” the 52-year-old former France and Toulon coach bristled. “It is the context of the economy. World Rugby is supporting a lot, spending a lot of money. It is the economic situation.
“If you look at the economy of rugby in the world you have two big countries – England and France.
“So the big chance of French Rugby Union is to organize rugby in the big economic country with strong financial reserve.
“We are sure England are following very closely with us cause England are a very strong country at this moment. We seek to work together to follow the same objective.”