Profit still a dirty word as World Cup makes pounds 22m `surplus'

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The Independent Online
Rugby Union

Rugby World Cup Ltd, roundly criticised around the world but especially in South Africa for its financial stewardship of rugby's great showpiece, yesterday announced a surplus (profit is apparently a dirty word) of pounds 22.1m from the 1995 tournament.

Some people, notably Louis Luyt, the bitterly censorious president of the South African Rugby Football Union, would not be satisfied whatever the figure, but a pounds 4.5m share will go to Sarfu with the balance of pounds 17.6m used to help set up the next World Cup, hosted by Wales in 1999, and to develop the game worldwide.

Full particulars will be disclosed in London in a fortnight when qualifying arrangements for the 1997 World Cup Sevens in Hong Kong will also be made known.

RWC decided to release the provisional figures after a directors' meeting in Singapore, a stopping-off point en route to Tokyo, where the International Rugby Board is meeting this week. The gross income was given as pounds 45.8m with expenses of pounds 23.7m.

Yesterday's announcement, three months after South Africa won the 1995 tournament, is RWC's necessary response to the fully justified censure it attracted for delaying release of the financial details from 1991. Eventually it was revealed that that event, held in the Five Nations, made around pounds 5m from a turnover of around pounds 20m.

The stated target for 1995 of generating a surplus equivalent to the 1991 turnover has thus been more than met - leading Marcel Martin, RWC's financial director, to defend his organisation against unflattering comparisons that have been made with the football World Cup.

Rugby's 35 per cent return on income (up from 25 per cent in 1991), Martin asserted, far exceeded that achieved by either the Olympic Games or football World Cup. "We have distributed nearly pounds 6m to 43 unions around the world in the past two years," he said. "But for Rugby World Cup, that money would never have been distributed."