New Zealand Rugby announce $5.5 million profit at AGM

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has announced a $5.5 million net profit for the 2021 financial during a 130th Annual General Meeting (AGM) that highlighted rugby’s recent challenges and future opportunities.

NZR Chair Stewart Mitchell said the organisation’s first financial profit since 2017 was a credit to the way rugby’s stakeholders, partners and staff had pulled together to tackle the significant challenges presented by COVID-19 during 2021. 

“We should reflect on 2021 with a sense of pride as we emerge from a tough period on sound financial footing, and with some key building blocks in place as we move into a crucial period for the game. Our people have worked incredibly hard to weather the COVID storm and their ability to adapt and be agile as we look to reimagine rugby has been inspiring.” 

NZR’s positive financial result came despite the postponement of Rugby World Cup 2021, border restrictions that forced the All Blacks Fortinet Rugby Championship Tests to be relocated to Australia and COVID lockdowns that disrupted the Bunnings Farah Palmer Cup and Bunnings NPC. 

“A key takeaway from the last 12 months was gaining certainty around our professional competitions. We were able to introduce the Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika to see the creation of DHL Super Rugby Pacific, and we cemented the first edition of the ground-breaking Sky Super Rugby Aupiki competition. This certainty creates a framework for driving commercial revenue and value for our stakeholders.” 

That was reflected in NZR’s revenue recovering to post-COVID levels by $51m to $189m in 2021, primarily driven by increases in broadcasting revenue and Sponsorship & Licensing. Altrad were secured as a new Major Global Partner, replacing AIG as the official front of jersey sponsor the All Blacks and Black Ferns, while INEOS signed up as Performance Partner and Taisho came on board as Premium Global Partner from 2022.  

Expenses rose by $26m to $183m, mainly due to more rugby being played than in 2020 with Teams in Black expenses up $18m to $57m and competitions up $10m to $81m, a reflection of the variability of the areas where matches and competitions were played. But rising expenses did not negatively impact investment in game development funding to Provincial Unions, which rose to $31m, and investment in women and girls’ rugby, which increased to $11m.  

Mitchell said the support of key partners like adidas, and Sky had been important through a tough period and praised their continued commitment to rugby in New Zealand including their support, along with ASB, of Sky Super Rugby Aupiki. 

Although cash reserves were maintained at $65m, including a $15m advance from World Rugby on RWC2023 funding, they were well below NZR’s policy target of 50 percent of operating expenses at just 36 percent. 

“We have been able to lay the foundations for our new four-year strategy, Strategy 2025, and now have the opportunity to re-imagine rugby for a modern world, but to do so we believe we need significant new investment in the game, or we run the very real risk of being left behind,” Mitchell said. 

The 130th AGM did not include the members vote on the Project Future private equity proposal after Provincial Unions asked for more time to assess some key details.

Women and girls in rugby 

The NZR Board, including newly appointed members Dame Patsy Reddy and Rowena Davenport, will have a strong focus on diversity as it prepares to grasp a massive opportunity for women and girls’ rugby, NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson. 

“We aren’t there yet, but we are making progress and are committed to increasing diversity in governance across rugby and on our Board,” Robinson said. “It’s crucial to our future and we have a huge opportunity in front of us with the Rugby World Cup this year, to invest now for future growth in the women’s game.” 

NZR’s investment in women and girl’s rugby was $11m in 2021 and is forecasted to be $27m in 2022, including $10m directly to RWC2021. Significantly NZR has set up the Sky Super Rugby Aupiki competition and offering the first fully professional Black Ferns contracts. 

“We made excellent progress in 2021 around women and girls in rugby, continuing to lay a foundation for accelerating the growth of the female game at every level. We are aware there is no finish line to this work, and we are not there yet, as the Black Ferns Review illustrated, but we believe we are heading in the right direction. 

“We are excited to be taking positive steps such as offering full time professional contracts to our Black Ferns for the first time and we are incredibly proud of the way our wahine are representing us on the world stage, none more so than our Olympic gold medal winning Black Ferns Sevens who represented their country and our game with so much mana in Tokyo.”  

NZR’s investment in women’s rugby will continue in 2022 with the creation of seven roles nationally dedicated to women’s rugby, four of which are focused on community rugby and developing playing, refereeing, and coaching opportunities. 

“As part of our partnership with Sport New Zealand, all 14 of our Bunnings NPC Provincial Unions will have Women and Girls’ Activator programmes to grow the game in 2022. There will be a significant increase in women’s rugby development roles around the country to support these programmes as we look to inspire the next generation of women’s players through the Rugby World Cup.” 

Board elections and appointments 

Former All Black and proud Samoan Sir Bryan Williams was elected as Life Member of NZR after being nominated by the Auckland Rugby Union and receiving unanimous approval from members. 

Williams, popularly known as Beegee, joins Richie Guy (elected 2001); Rob Fisher (2011); John Sturgeon (2012); Andy Leslie (2015); Sir Graham Henry (2016); Richard "Dick" Littlejohn (2018); and Mike Eagle (2020) as NZR’s current Life Members.

Read more about Sir Bryan’s Life Membership here

Wayne Young was elected to the Board after being nominated by Tasman Rugby Union, heading off Whanganui Rugby Union nomination Richard Dellabarca, in replacing Shaun Nixon on the nine-person Board.

Blenheim businessman, former Marlborough halfback and former Tasman Rugby Union Chair Young joins recent appointments of Dame Patsy Reddy and Rowena Davenport as the three new NZR Board members.

Read more about Dame Patsy and Rowena Davenport here 

Davenport was nominated by Otago Rugby Football Union (ORFU) and selected by the Appointments and Remuneration Committee (ARC) after Jennifer Kerr chose not to seek re-appointment to the NZR Board. Dame Patsy was also appointed by the ARC and replaces former NZR Chair Brent Impey, who was not eligible for reappointment after serving four terms on the Board. 

Veteran administrator Max Spence was elected as NZR President, replacing Former All Black Bill Osborne (Te Atihaunui), who had served as President since 2019 and finished his tenure. Spence has held various club, provincial and Super Rugby administrative posts over the past 23 years, is a Life Member of the Nelson Bays Sub Union and became the first Life Member of Tasman Rugby Union in 2013.  

Spence said: “I’ve got big shoes to fill after the job Bill has done as President. I would like to thank him for his service and acknowledge the mana he brought to the role as an ambassador for our game both here in New Zealand and overseas. It’s an honour to carry on his fantastic work and hopefully I can do as good a job.” 

Former All Black and current Chief Executive of Sport Waikato, Matthew Cooper was elected Vice President, taking over the role from Spence, who had completed his term.


The performance of the Black Ferns Sevens and All Blacks Sevens at the Tokyo Olympics was a shining light in 2021. Both teams excelled on and off the field with gold and silver medals respectively 

"We are exceptionally proud of them, not only for performing well at a pinnacle event, but also the way they conducted themselves. When it comes to winning with mana and inspiring and unifying through rugby, the Black Ferns Sevens and All Blacks Sevens set a fantastic example lauded around the world,” Robinson said. 

The All Blacks produced some fantastic results, notably celebrating the 100th Test between the All Blacks and South Africa with a hard-fought win that epitomised the traditional rivalry. Head Coach Ian Foster’s team also retained the Bledisloe Cup and the Fortinet Rugby Championship. Long tours of the Northern Hemisphere were a mixed bag for both the All Blacks and Black Ferns as the effects of an extended stint away from home took a toll. 

“Most notably we need to acknowledge and respect the high skill levels and quality of the European nations. There are small margins between success and failure on the global stage between the world’s leading nations, and we know our teams will continue to work hard to regain the number one position that we all aspire,” Robinson said. 

Domestic competitions were severely disrupted by COVID, but still produced some typically passionate rugby. Waikato won the Bunning Farah Palmer Cup Premiership title and Manawatu won the Championship title. Waikato were crowned Bunnings NPC Premiership champions and Taranaki were unbeaten in winning the Championship. Hawke’s Bay retained the Ranfurly Shield with six successful defences, while South Canterbury won their inaugural Meads Cup and Whanganui took home the Lochore Cup.

The Crusaders beat the Chiefs to win the Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa final, while the Blues won the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman title with a 23-15 win over the Highlanders.

New Board Member Bios 

Wayne Young 

Wayne Young has held the role of Rugby Director at Tasman Rugby Union for the last 11 years and most recently served as Chair for the Union, playing a pivotal role in the growth and success of the club.  A Marlborough local, Wayne has played for and coached rugby in the region over thirty years. His career in car dealership sales, acquisition and property development is extensive, previously part-owner of Motorworld, representing Nissan NZ Dealer Council, Holden NZ, most recently Wayne is building a new dealership which will represent the SsangYong/LDV franchise. In addition, Wayne holds current director roles with Riverview Forestry, Morris Young Holdings, SG Wholesale LTD Stanley Gibson LTD and Pelorus Views. In 2021 Wayne implemented a youth council for Tasman Rugby, to ensure representation across the entire game – demonstrating his passion for the game and the future of rugby. 

Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy 

Former Governor-General The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy has had extensive experience in governance and consulting roles in both the private and public sector. Dame Patsy has served as a non-executive director of Telecom Corporation, Sky City Entertainment Group, Air New Zealand, New Zealand Post and Payments NZ Ltd. She also served as Chair of the New Zealand Film Commission, Deputy Chair of New Zealand Transport Agency, and Chair of Education Payroll Ltd. Her extensive CV includes major consulting roles as Independent Reviewer of Intelligence and Security in New Zealand and Independent Facilitator of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity among others and she was a Chief Crown Negotiator for Treaty Settlements.  Dame Patsy has also had significant involvement in governance of creative and charitable organisations, including as Trustee of the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts, the Victoria University Foundation, the Victoria University Art Collection Trust, the Spark Art Trust, the Wellington Jazz Festival Trust, and Sky City Community Trust.  She was a founding Trustee and advisory board member for New Zealand Global Women and has chaired the Board of the New Zealand Film Archive. She is currently a Trustee of the NZ Symphony Orchestra Foundation and the Aspen Institute New Zealand. In 2014 she became a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the arts and business and was made a Grand Companion of the Order and received the Queens Service Order (QSO) in 2016. Educated at Victoria University of Wellington with an LLM (First Class Honours).     

Rowena Davenport 

Rowena Davenport joined Gallaway Cook Allan in 2021 as Chief Executive to provide leadership and support to the firm and its partners. Rowena’s background is in finance and strategy, prior to joining Gallaway Cook Allan she was part of the Executive Team at MTF Finance, with responsibilities that included funding, risk management, and leading strategy development and execution. Her ability to think strategically, with a focus on people and culture, saw her get involved in governance, joining the Board of the Otago Rugby Football Union (ORFU) in 2014. In 2019 she was appointed Chair of the ORFU Board, the first female Chair of a major Provincial Rugby Union in New Zealand. Rowena has also served as a member of the New Zealand Secondary School Rugby Strategic Advisory Group and interned on the Board of Dunedin City Holding Limited in 2018. In recognition of her role and contribution to rugby governance, on International Women’s Day earlier this year, she was awarded a World Rugby Executive Leadership Scholarship. Rowena believes that a high performing organisation comes from having a clear strategy, with effective leadership that supports collaboration, and is focussed on delivering value to the organisation and its stakeholders.