World Cup win boosts RFU cashflow

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The Independent Online

If you have to kiss goodbye to a small fortune by participating in the World Cup every four years, it is best to win the thing now and again.

The Rugby Football Union, concerned at the financial consequences of losing lucrative home matches at Twickenham because of the global event in Australia 12 months ago, yesterday escaped their worst fears by announcing operating profits of £13.5m for the 2003-04 season - £2m up on 2001-02 - on the back of a doubling of merchandising revenue and a sharp increase in hospitality business.

England's achievement in securing the Webb Ellis Trophy for the first time is reflected in a turnover of £71.3m, broadly in line with the record £72.4m figure the previous year, despite being denied an estimated £8.3m from an autumn programme and hosting only two Six Nations' Championship fixtures.

"The positive effects of winning the World Cup mean we have an excellent foundation from which to exploit our commercial opportunities," said the chief executive, Francis Baron. "I fully expect our new sponsorship deals to generate increases of 20 per cent plus."