World Rugby Funding – The Facts & Figures

An article by In the Loose caught my eye where they said that Tier 1 nations would get fifty times the funding of Tier 2 nations. So I thought I’d take a look at the numbers and see what the difference would be if there was equal funding of Tier 1 and Tier 2 nations.

This is a topic that comes up every Rugby World Cup to a greater or lesser degree. This time round though Word Rugby has been making a big song and dance about the amount of money it has invested into Tier 2 nations. We have seen the impact of that with the Tier 2 nations being much more competitive and we have not seen big scores running out to 100+ that have occurred in previous Rugby World Cups.

So what is the truth? Are the Tier 1 nations getting fifty times the amount or is there significant investment into Tier 2 nations? Is it both or something in-between?

In The Loose says that:

Whilst sides like Fiji and Samoa will be paid around £150,000 for their participation in the 2015 tournament, Tier 1 sides will receive £7.5m each out of a total pool of around £150m profit from the tournament as a whole.

According to World Rugby the funding is different to that. Each Tier 1 nation gets £8.5 each and the 10 Tier 2 nations that make it into the Rugby World Cup get £5 each. A chunk of cash for sure but a big difference. The difference is that the previous numbers only look at participation payments whilst World Rugby is also talking about investment payments. In addition to the World Rugby numbers there are performance payments at the Rugby World Cup so it looks more like this:

Tier Set Payment Pool Stage QF SF Total Per Country
1 £85,000,000 £1,500,000 £600,000 £400,000 £87,500,000 £8,750,000
2 £50,000,000 £1,500,000 £51,500,000 £5,150,000
Difference £3,600,000

The per country is an average amount and the teams that make the Quarter or Semi finals will get the extra cash. But still that’s a £3.6 million difference between Tier 1 and Tier 2.

So far we have only considered the teams that have made the Rugby World Cup. There are three Tier 2 nations that didn’t make it to the Rugby World Cup in Spain, Portugal and Russia. How much do they get?

It’s not clear as World Rugby says it invests “£28m in the remaining member unions and regional associations”. But there are an addition 102 Tier 3 nations that I’m assuming are included in that amount. If we are going to talk about equal funding clearly it’s not going to stretch over all those nations but I do think that we should include the 3 other Tier 2 nations at least so that the Rugby World Cup doesn’t become a closed shop that they can’t qualify for.

So in summary if we are going to aim for equal funding then it should be across the 10 Tier 1 nations and 13 Tier 2 nations. Here is what that would look like and I have assumed that the three non-Rugby World Cup Tier 2 nations get negligible funding as I don’t have a breakdown of that £28 mill.

Tier Current Average Equal funding Difference
1 £8,750,000 £6,043,478 -£2,706,522
2 in RWC £5,150,000 £6,043,478 £893,478
2 out RWC 0 £6,043,478 £6,043,478

Note: To get the equal funding figure add the two Total numbers from the previous table and divide by 23.

If you don’t include the three Tier 2 nations that didn’t make the Rugby World Cup then there is an extra £900K each. But if we are fighting for equal funding then it should be across the whole of Tier 2 otherwise we are just creating another glass ceiling.

It’s not the windfall I was expecting it to be for the Tier 2 nations. It’s an increase of 17% so a significant uptick and better than a kick in the teeth but how much impact would it have? I still believe in the principle of equal funding but I’m no longer convinced it would make as big a difference as people think. It’s starting to appear that having regular home games against Tier 1 nations would be more beneficial, as it would allow of greater revenue and increased game experience for the players.

On a side note you will hear the £150 mill profit number used a lot along with 90%+ of World Rugby’s income comes from the Rugby World Cup. If we look at the amount that the Rugby World Cup says it is investing there is:

  • £4 mill Rugby World Cup participation
  • £85 mill in tier one
  • £50 mill in tier two
  • £28 mill in remaining

That comes to £167 mill which is the profit + 10% from somewhere else. That doesn’t leave much if any money left to run World Rugby.

After writing this article I got to talk to the Asia & Oceania General Manager for World Rugby about funding models. You can read that interview here.

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