February 22, 2019. Victoria (ISN) - - Erich Eichhorn photo ( www.allsportmedia.ca)

Rugby Canada provided a financial update that included the initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the release of the 2018 financial statements and an update on financial management procedures.

Like many businesses and other National Rugby Unions, Rugby Canada is currently facing financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the suspension of sanctioned rugby in Canada and the cancellation of events nationally and globally, Rugby Canada staff continue work in the areas of financial management, administration, member relations, program and future event planning, partnership engagement, content delivery and communications. For fiscal 2020 (beginning January 1, 2020), the support from key funding and commercial partners has been crucial to maintaining Union operations. Rugby Canada would like to recognize and thank their corporate partners, as well as the Government of Canada who have provided support to Rugby Canada and many other businesses via the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. This support, in conjunction with the completion of the 2020 HSBC Canada Sevens, has lessened the immediate impact to the Union and made Rugby Canada ineligible for World Rugby’s stage one emergency funding for the period of mid-April through May 31st due to current financial stability and positive cash position.

Rugby Canada Chair Tim Powers stated, “I would like to commend the staff of Rugby Canada for their handling of the pandemic situation. With the help of our commercial and funding partners, we have been able to weather the early storm. The impact of COVID-19 has rightly been a topic of focus for our Board, while a forward-looking pan-Canadian working group has been assembled in conjunction with the Provincial Unions to look at ‘return to play’ options across the country, when safe.” Powers continued, “However, the restrictions associated with the pandemic will have significant negative implications for the remainder of 2020 in terms of registration, additional sponsorship and event revenues. The effects of the pandemic are being felt across the country and around the world, and we are prepared to take additional steps, as required, to ensure the financial viability of our Union through these unprecedented times.”

All Rugby Canada staff have accepted a temporary wage reduction between 10 to 15%, and training support payments for a number of centralized Women’s and Men’s National Team players have been halted from May 1st.  Communication with all parties has been maintained relating to possible further measures to be taken in the coming weeks and months. Rugby Canada is taking all steps possible to reduce expenses during this downturn in operational activities and examine additional support programs. Although Rugby Canada did not qualify for the initial World Rugby Emergency Fund, additional funding from World Rugby will be required later in fiscal 2020.

In addition to COVID-19 adjustments, on Monday, May 4th the fiscal 2018 AGM was reconvened with all Provincial member Unions. The 2018 Rugby Canada financial statements, prepared by BDO Canada LLP, were presented to the members to officially conclude the fiscal 2018 AGM.  The financial statements have now been posted on rugby.ca.

Rugby Canada CEO Allen Vansen said, “I would first like to thank our Provincial partners and membership for their patience in receiving delivery of the 2018 financial statements. The re-location of Rugby Canada’s finance department from Toronto to Langford, combined with the associated changeover in staff, service suppliers and accounting software, led to the delay in completing the 2018 audit. Rugby Canada would like to recognize all staff that showed tremendous commitment and diligence in ensuring the completion of this project, and to the Provincial members for their understanding of this unique situation.”

2018 marked the first year with full operating costs at the Al Charron National Training Centre, which included relevant amortization charges on the building that show as a non-cash expense on Rugby Canada’s P&L. Taking amortization expenses into account, Rugby Canada ended the fiscal 2018 year in a cash-positive position, and reduced the organization’s Net Deficiency by more than $100,000. Some line items in the Statement of Operations show visible variances when comparing 2017 to 2018, however most of these are due to category allocation variances year over year.

The 2018 financial statements continue to be prepared on a ‘going concern’ basis due to the financing obligations related to the Al Charron National Training Centre and the uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Rugby Canada’s Board and Management are committed to implementing reductions in operations, events and activities to further reduce expenses in order to mitigate these risks for the organization going forward.

Vansen added, “The timeline for delivery of the 2018 financial report was not acceptable, and Rugby Canada have completed a challenging transition of staffing and accounting systems over the past two years. Positive results in process and financial management have been realized – including the streamlining of staff, the re-working of our chart of accounts, the implementation of new financial software and updates to policies and procedures – to ensure timely financial reporting moving forward. Currently, the audit for fiscal 2019 is in process in conjunction with BDO Canada.  Although the effects of COVID-19 are slowing most business operations, the 2019 financial statements are expected to be released later this summer.”

While completing the financial operational changes, Rugby Canada has also:

  • taken further steps to reduce administrative costs (including the sub-leasing of the Richmond Hill office space)
  • engaged an experienced and qualified CFO consultant to assist with preparation of the 2019 audit and to review all financial management processes and controls
  • absorbed significant insurance premium increases (approximately 20% year over year)
  • confirmed the annual High Performance investment from World Rugby through 2023 via the Men’s 15s RWC2019 qualification and participation
  • secured a further four-year hosting agreement with World Rugby for the HSBC Canada Sevens tournaments in Vancouver & Langford
  • secured major corporate sponsorship renewals exceeding previous year values
  • qualified both Women’s & Men’s 7s teams for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
  • re-developed the Men’s Performance Academy (Pacific Pride)
  • improved alignment with our Provincial union performance programs for the Age Grade performance pathways
  • worked with Provinces & clubs to continue the introduction of rugby to more than 90,000 youth through HSBC Rookie Rugby presented by Honda
  • initiated important alignment with the Provinces on Safe Sport & Harassment policy development