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RA Annual Report Paints Grim Picture for Future of Super Rugby

Bleeding money is a tough way to earn a living and Rugby Australia is bleeding profusely, according to recently released figures.

RA lost $7.5 million in 2017 as reported in the annual report.

Axing the Western Force was a costly proposition, but it seemed as though the Force was having trouble generating revenue and left RA hold the bag for several millions in bad debts that are unlikely to ever be recovered.

There was a surplus in 2016, but the figures seem to overlook the fact that the government chipped in almost $22 million when RA built new headquarters in Sydney.

Had that injection of money been treated properly, it would have revealed an operational deficit of nearly $4 million.

On the surface, it would appear that getting the number of Australian Super Rugby teams down to four from five would have produced an immediate 20 percent boost to the bottom line, but the grim reality is that without enough money coming in from fans and a lucrative broadcast deal, it is hard to pay players the sort of salaries that will keep them in the fold when they can get more from the NRL and far more from deep-pocketed clubs in Europe.

RA Chairman Cameron Clyne has a difficult task and points to one off costs as the primary negative factor.

“Without those one off costs, we’ll have $12 million in the next two years to reinvest back into the game so that gives us I think a little bit more financial security than we’ve perhaps had previously,” Clyne said after Monday’s annual meeting in Sydney.

The simple reality is that Super Rugby is writing checques that come back “insufficient funds,” metaphorically speaking, so Clyne’s predictions of a profitable 2018 have the ring of whistling past the graveyard.

“Obviously 2017 was a very difficult year and one we don’t in any way hope to replicate,” Clyne said.

A June Test series against Ireland is the hoped-for saviour for 2018.