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Tasman Rugby Union make another profit

It is said that success breeds success, and so it is with the Tasman Rugby Union who announced an operating surplus of $457,490 at their annual general meeting in Blenheim on Monday.

Their ability to declare their fifth profit in the past six years was due in no small part to the efforts of the union's flagship team, the Tasman Makos, who produced an exciting run to the ITM Cup premiership final last season. The net surplus for the year was $220,902 after depreciation ($74,029) and asset write downs ($160,559) were taken into account.

Tasman Rugby Union chairman Ken Beams said, "the financial position of the TRU rests in no small part down to two factors. The Tasman region wanting to be involved in the Makos team, and the success of the ITM Cup team.

"The impact of hosting and winning finals matches could not be underestimated and was a huge financial boost to the union".

The success of the ITM Cup team has seen player contracts increase by $92,468 from the previous season to $779,000.

"The player payment budget was considerably below the New Zealand Rugby cap, by about $200,000", Beams said. "TRU staff did a really good job in controlling costs but still delivering quality rugby programmes and securing the best players available."

Surpluses over the last three seasons means the Tasman union now has money in the bank and is debt free. "We would like to maintain a position over time where the union retains $1m in reserves to act as a safety net to ensure we continue to grow our community rugby"," Beams added.

Tasman chief executive Tony Lewis was pleased with the season's financial result, but said further challenges lay ahead.

"We have all major sponsor companies re-signed for 2015 which have been with us for the long haul," Lewis said. 

"But 2015 is a potentially difficult year and the union is working hard to account for this.


"The 2015 budget is extremely tight and there are difficulties in securing the required funds for community projects … and the board charter illustrates a stronger desire to invest in community rugby. This has been evident already in 2015 with the Contestable Fund of $20,000 for clubs who have projects that will grow the game at youth level, and the increased numbers of staff in the community rugby space." 

He listed the highlights of the past season as - increasing the number of staff numbers in the community rugby area from two to six; an increase in sponsorship from Marlborough (a 60% increase from 2014); the introduction of the 500 Club; the success of the re-introduction of the Tasman Griffins and Tasman Red Devils as part of development pathways;  a three percent growth in youth rugby under 13 and below; a youth initiative project which covered 2800 children and 18 schools and involved Makos players; 18 Makos players  gaining Super Rugby contracts and the success of Marlborough Boys' College and Nelson College First XVs in becoming Press Cup semifinalist and finalist respectively.

Amid the good news, Lewis sounded a note of caution for 2015, suggesting the Makos will be "treading a tougher path after the premiership draw".

"The 2015 budget reflects financial pressure and funding application success for community programmes is never guaranteed and has been difficult in 2015."

A by-product of the Makos success over the past two seasons has seen an increasing amount of players signed to Super Rugby contracts, putting pressure on the union to retain players.

"Three members of last season's side, Tom Marshall, Bryce Heem and Mitchell Scott, have departed but the wage bill requires close and prudent management," said Lewis.

"The TRU has become a streamlined operation and will continue to be prudent when it comes to the make-up of the ITM Cup team but has invested heavily in the next generation of Mako players through the new apprenticeship programme. Tasman have contracted 11 players on PUDC (Provincial Union Development Contracts) in 2015."

In board personnel matters, Pete Watkins has been elected as an independent member for three years while Tony Woodall (Nelson Bays) and and Wayne Young were elected to the board for two years respectively by their sub unions