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August 12, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Clubs Loose With Money, Forwards

A Victoria student has found grassroots rugby is becoming an endangered species in Wellington, but that with some amendments it can be saved.

Accounting student Andrew Milne has found that approximately half of Wellington’s rugby-union clubs are losing money each year. Milne examined the players’ subscription fees of 18 Wellington rugby clubs over the five-year period between 2008 and 2012. The average cost of each player for a club is $982; however, on average, players pay only $120 a season each, making clubs financially untenable.

“The losses being experienced by the rugby clubs in Wellington are unsustainable over time,” Milne found.

“Research also suggests the need to find funding from a diverse range of sources.”

Only around seven per cent of a club’s expenditure came from subscription fees, while more than 50 per cent came from external sources such as gaming trusts and bar trading. However, changing attitudes towards alcohol and gambling are set to see that number drop, Milne points out.

“Clubs need to be exploring other options … my hope is that clubs will use [my findings] to manage their expenditure and future costs.”

Clubs that Milne interviewed were wary of raising subscription fees because it could cause an exodus to other clubs or codes. The clubs also stated that about 80 per cent of expenditure was necessary: ground maintenance, competition fees and cleaning. Milne added that there was scope for savings with reduced expenditure on team gear, like blazers and tracksuits.

Milne’s work was undertaken as part of the Victoria University Summer Scholarship programme, and received funding from Sport New Zealand.

Victoria University boasts its own rugby-union club, Old Boys University, as well as three rugby-league teams, 13 cricket teams and 15 football teams.

Membership at Old Boys University costs around $100. The club has produced 29 All Blacks, the most recent being midfield legend Conrad Smith.

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