For the third consecutive year the Tasman Rugby Union has reported a financial surplus.
Although the $139,832 result from the 2016 season was slightly less than the $180,501 surplus recorded in 2015, it represents the seventh time in the past eight years that the TRU have been able to turn a healthy profit.
At the TRU's 11th Annual General Meeting in Blenheim on Monday, TRU chairman Ken Beams said it had been a challenging year but the union was now financially sound and, with money in the bank, had a financial base that secured the future.
"The challenge moving forward for the union is to grow the revenue to invest more in the community game," he said.
Beams underlined the fact that it was "still tough going and financial discipline was needed".
"The union is very much dependent on sponsors and trust funding for survival. One of its goals for the 2017 Mitre 10 representative season is to draw more spectators to games and explore the corporate hospitality dollar."
Following a funding review by the New Zealand Rugby Union, their contribution to Tasman increased by $373,446 to $1,498,971 in 2016. Of this amount, $776,554 is tagged for community rugby programmes.
Beams acknowledged the parent body's increased financial contribution and noted that, as this was set in stone until 2020, it offered some assurance to Tasman.
"The union had budgeted for a break-even budget for the coming year, and has invested heavily in the community rugby space ... the focus is on making a major impact in community rugby. High-level goals for the board are community participation, high performance, sustainability, collaboration and communication."
Total revenue gathered in 2016 was $4,173,955, a 9.7 percent increase on 2015.
Total operating expenditure was $4,034,123, 11.3 percent greater than the previous year. Most of this was expended on additional staff to grow the community game, said chief executive Tony Lewis. This included the recruitment of a community rugby analyst, community skills coach and several junior rugby development officers.
Lewis said the 2016 surplus was the result of prudent financial management and commercial growth, but pointed out that several factors had conspired to limit revenue in 2016.
"Unlike competing provincial unions, Tasman had not benefited from a six-figure sum for hosting a test, or hosting the Mitre 10 Cup semifinal and final. Also, we have not received a dividend from the Crusaders for quite some time, unlike other unions within other franchise.
"In 2016 match day returns from ticket sales and beverage, was significantly down when compared to previous years. We averaged 3700 fans per home match, down 11 percent on 2015. This has been a direct result of the draw and, more significantly, match day times and weather," he added.
Lewis said there were a string of on-field highlights in 2016. These included the Makos reaching the Mitre 10 Cup final for the second time in three years, All Blacks call-ups for Liam Squire and Kane Hames, Maori All Blacks caps for Billy Guyton, Shane Christie, Hames and James Lowe plus the naming of three New Zealand Sevens reps - Trael Joass, Andrew Knewstubb and Tone Ng Shiu.
Eighteen players received Super Rugby contracts, Quentin Strange represented NZ under-20 while Isaiah Miller, Will Jordan and Tima Faingaanuku were included in the NZ under-20 train-on squad for the 2017 World Cup. Leicester Faingaanuku represented NZ Schools, Nelson College finished third in the Crusaders region First XV competition, claiming the prestigious Moascar Cup, and Marlborough Boys' College won the plate final.
Acknowledged at the AGM was the passing of Tasman rugby identities Jimmy Aldridge, Pat Bailey, Kevin (Turtle) Black, Ted Coleman, former patron Charlie Cowman, Ben Crowless, former president John Goodman, Kingi Horua, Bill McCaw, Barry Philips, Jack Quick and Des Taylor.
There has been little change on the incoming board. Chairman Ken Beams was re-appointed as an independent director, along with Nelson Bay's Tony Woodall and Marlborough's Wayne Young from their respective sub-unions. The Tasman Rugby Union board for 2017 is: president John Tapp, chairman Ken Beams, Wayne Young, Tony Woodall, Scott Ford, George Millar, Scott Gibbons and Tony Healey.