A 127th annual meeting down on numbers was probably a good sign for the Manawatu Rugby Union at Arena Manawatu last night.
The union announced its second successive surplus, of $51,394, a far cry from the horrendous deficits of 2008 to 2010 when clubs sent along their full rations of delegates concerned at the state of the exchequer.
Some clubs had only a solitary delegate present last night.
But, while the union announced a profit, finance spokesman John Whitehead said: "2012 has been another year of financial recovery."
The surplus was achieved thanks to intensive cost-cutting, sponsorship being up by $124,000 (mostly from contra deals but which must be entered on the books) and an extra $40,000 from the New Zealand Rugby Union as reimbursement for having two All Blacks.
Trust funding was also up by $94,000 but that was partly due to an accounting allocation at the balance date.
It helped that Turbos match expenses were down by $60,000, not having to again host a Championship semifinal.
None of which gets away from the fact Manawatu still has no reserves and heavy debt, negative equity of $391,183, a legacy of the three successive deficits between 2008 and 2010.
"Unfortunately we are still in the red overall, but it is decreasing steadily," Whitehead said.
It could tumble quickly because the union has a high-end house at Mangaone Park on the market and that could have a positive effect on next season's accounts.
In the past two seasons, $187,000 has been carved off the union's debt, which was at a peak of $531,000 at the beginning of 2011.
"Unlike two years ago, we are completely up to date with all supplier accounts," Whitehead told the meeting.
The Manawatu board knows it can no longer rely on rugby income to make ends meet. Unions are being forced to find other revenue and the Manawatu board is to meet next March to explore more avenues.
Income from Turbos matches was down by a staggering $206,000 to only $174,000, from $380,000 the previous season. That was blamed on too much rugby being available, less than favourable midweek match times, not hosting a playoff and atrocious weather on three match days "which is beyond the control of the board", said Whitehead.
The good news for this year is that Manawatu will not have any home matches on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays. The five games will be spread between Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
All three board members were last night returned for three-year teams. They were chairman Steve Morris, Grant Smith and Steve Lee.
Former Manawatu union deputy chairman and High School Old Boys' life member Kevin Tod, who served for 10 years on the management committee, was elected as a Manawatu life member last night. He was nominated by Old Boys-Marist and seconded by the Massey University club.
Union president Terry Clare was concerned at the diminishing number of rural players and said country clubs had to keep fielding under-21 teams
He said he would like to see a coaching academy set up similar to Manawatu's playing academy.
Club Rugby Council delegates: Ashhurst-Pohangina (Roger Heatley), Bulls (Jason Wright), Bunnythorpe (Peter Slack), College Old Boys (Keith Crossan), Dannevirke Sports (Barry Mitchell), Feilding (Sean O'Connor), Feilding Old Boys-Oroua (Dan Lewis), Freyberg OB (Neil Aitcheson), Halcombe (Barbara Kreegher), Kia Toa (David Adamson), Linton Army (Troy Homes), Massey University (David Faulkner) chairman, Old Boys-Marist (Phil Metcalf) deputy chairman, Te Kawau (Mike Dravitski), Supporters Club (Ian Cooper), Referees (Craig Bailey), Junior board (Duncan Elliott), Secondary schools board (Rob Jones), Maori (Mike Haddon).
2012: surplus of $51,394
2011: surplus of $136,065
2010: deficit of $315,818
2009: deficit of $32,351
2008: deficit of $454,502
2007: surplus of $5145
2006: surplus of $12,232
2005: surplus of $36,324
2004: deficit of $67,898
2003: surplus of $48,054
2002: surplus of $26,610
2001: surplus of $45,102
2000: surplus of $89,805
1999: surplus of $164,239
1998: deficit of $279,150
1997: surplus of $28,575
- Manawatu Standard
How will the Hurricanes do in 2015?Related story: Supporting players light up Hurricanes bright start to Super Rugby season