February 28, 2018 / 11:58 PM / 6 months ago

Lions tour drives record profit for New Zealand Rugby

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - A NZ$40 million ($28.8 million) windfall from last year’s British and Irish Lions tour helped New Zealand Rugby to a record profit in the 2016-17 financial year, the ruling body said on Thursday.

The NZ$33.4 million profit came despite an unprecedented investment of NZ$224 million in rugby in the homeland of the world champion All Blacks, who drew a thrilling test series with the Lions 1-1 last June and July.

“The Lions Series generated massive interest both here in New Zealand and globally and that’s reflected in the numbers, but it needs to be put in the context of being a one-in-twelve-year-event,” NZR chief executive Steve Tew said in a statement.

“This spike was in our financial projections and provided us with the confidence to invest heavily back into the game, starting last year, when we made a loss of NZ$7.5m, and going forward.

“The reality is we won’t have those advantages over the next three years, but we have planned for that and will therefore continue to be smart about our costs and where our priorities lie.”

The Lions also had wider benefits to the rugby-mad country with a New Zealand government report putting the value of the tour to the Gross Domestic Product at NZ$245 million ($176.5 million).

($1 = 1.3879 New Zealand dollars)

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Ed Osmond

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