The departure of Eddie Jones has resulted in a £4.7m increase in costs for the RFU.
The annual report for the Rugby Football Union for the year ending June 2023 revealed that the decision to dismiss Eddie Jones and appoint Steve Borthwick resulted in a rise of approximately £5 million in England’s expenses.
In December 2022, Jones was fired following a lackluster performance in the autumn season. Borthwick assumed the role later that month. The RFU decided not to place Jones on gardening leave or include a noncompete clause in his contract. However, as stated in the annual report, he did receive a pre-agreed payment upon termination.
The report states that £900,000 was spent on staff restructuring expenses, with the largest portion of that being attributed to Jones’s severance agreement.
The expenses for restructuring do not cover the payment given to Leicester to secure the release of Borthwick and Kevin Sinfield as defence coach last year. This amount is estimated to be around £1 million.
The RFU’s analysis credited a rise in funding by £4.7m for the England men’s and women’s teams, partially due to alterations in the England men’s coaching staff and involvement in the Women’s World Cup, the 2022 autumn campaign, and Borthwick’s initial World Cup training session held in June.
The report indicates that Bill Sweeney, the CEO facing criticism, received a salary increase to £684,000. Sweeney had to confront opposition during the recent World Cup from 30 RFU council members who signed a resolution questioning his leadership and expressing concerns about the union’s financial state. This was just one of several challenges in the past year, including the collapse of Wasps, Worcester, London Irish, and Jersey Reds, mismanagement of changes to the tackle height rule, and the council’s refusal to allow him to hire an independent advisor for governance reforms.
Despite generating £221.4m in revenue, the RFU has announced a loss of £6.3m in reserves for the fiscal year ending June 2023. Sue Day, the union’s chief financial officer, notes that a profit of £10m is typically expected at this point in the World Cup cycle and cautions that there is currently a projected ongoing deficit of approximately £5m in the underlying profit/loss reserves.
Day states that due to our significant amount of cash, we can manage this situation for the time being in order to preserve our investments in rugby. However, in the long term, this approach is not feasible. This will be a main priority in the upcoming year as we collaborate with other important entities within the system to address the deficit at the RFU level and throughout the entire English rugby ecosystem.
The significant growth in income of £189.1m compared to the previous year can be attributed to the rise in ticket sales for a successful autumn program and an extra home Six Nations game. The Women’s Six Nations match against France in April, which drew a record-breaking audience of almost 60,000, contributed approximately £1m to the overall revenue.
Day states that the revenue from tickets for women’s international games is currently significantly less than that of men’s games. However, it is a crucial aspect that is being targeted for increasing future profits.