International Rugby League in £2.3m debt as it waits on World Cup success

James Gordon
International rugby league between France and England

Picture by Will Palmer/

The International Rugby League body recorded a loss of more than £1.2m in 2020.

Despite recording no turnover in a year decimated by COVID, its administrative costs were more than £1.1m.

It follows a loss of £1.1m in the 2019 financial year, meaning its balance sheet currently stands at -£2.3m.

That means the IRL is operating as a going concern; though the upcoming World Cup is expected to correct their finances.

The report stated: “The company’s balance sheet shows that it has relied on financing from Australian company (out of the profits from previous World Cups) and also on advances received on its 2021 Rugby League World Cup rights fee.

“Following the deferred staging of the 2021 event, it is anticipated that in 2022 the profits from the competition will result in the company having a healthy, positive balance sheet going forward.”

Administrative costs

The IRL’s costs largely comprise of its management team; grants payable to member nations and confederations and the costs of third-party professional advisers.

Following the rebrand from the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF), a UK-based company, International Rugby League Limited was created.

Historically, the federation’s activities have gone through RLIF, an Australian-based company.

The RLIF has since advanced A$2.9m of its A$3.4m assets as financial support to the UK company.

The Australian company has charged £108,000 in interest on this support in 2020.

It is expected that revenues from the World Cup will allow IRL to repay its loans to RLIF.

EURO: The challenges of driving forward European Rugby League

Work on governance

The IRL is made up of 12 directors, chaired by Troy Grant.

The 12 include RFL chairman Simon Johnson and chief executive Ralph Rimmer, as well as French Federation president Luc Lacoste.

Secretary General Danny Kazandjian says that the work done on governance in recent years will stand IRL in good stead moving forward.

Kazandjian said: “(After) the complete overhaul of the IRL’s financial management, (it) is now more transparent and robust than ever before.

“Our prudent, good governance approach has been essential in this challenging period but the practices adopted will protect the IF’s (International Federation) financial stability, health and capacity well into the tufutre.

“That, coupled with our ongoing 2022-2033 strategy development, built around a coherent multi-year calendar, will lead to greater investment into international rugby league, whose growth is IRL’s sole purpose.”

In 2021, Cameroon and Morocco became affiliate members of the IRL.

Montenegro became the 27th European member of the IRL.

El Salvador, Philippines and Japan also formalised their memberships.

You can view the IRL’s annual report on their website.