A sporting licence to print money
Similarly, Ulster’s run to the final last year would have earned the IRFU €1.35 million – more than the €1 million they are believed to have given Ulster for their recruitment of overseas players such as Ruan Pienaar, Johann Muller and BJ Botha/John Afoa two and a half years ago.
The old maxim about having to speculate to accumulate applies, and that’s aside from all the other manifold benefits rugby-wise and commercially.
In addition to their commercial revenue, such as sponsors’ bonuses, the only real windfall for the provinces is by way of earning ahome quarter-final.
This is a completely unbudgeted game, and Toulouse were the first to cotton onto its value, earning eight home quarter-finals between 1998 and 2010, all of which were moved to Le Stadium and all but the first were in and around 37,000 sell-outs.
Nor does this include the monies which the home quarter-finalists generate from hospitality on the day.
Were a club to keepa quarterfinal at its normal home ground, the gate is shared, after costs, 50-50 with the away club. Clubs are given an incentive to move to a bigger venue by being awarded a 65 per cent share of the gate, after costs, while the ERC stipulates that 35 per cent share for the away club cannot be less than the original 50 per cent share.
Here again, though, the IRFU is a winner, as the home province splits their share evenly with the union. Hence, if an Aviva Stadium quarter-final earned €1.2 million in gross gate receipts after a 20per cent reduction in costs for ground hire, last season €420,000 would have been given to the Cardiff Blues for showing up (which is about all they did do) while Leinster would have split their €780,000 or so take from the game with the IRFU.
The same was true of 2010-11, when almost 50,000 turned up for the win over Leicester. Furthermore, the IRFU would also have received a handsome take from the Aviva being rented by Leinster for home quarter-finals in each of the last two seasons, as well as by the ERC for the semi-final two seasons ago.
Admittedly, everybody is a winner, as Leinster would still be making more money from a home quarter-final than would have been the case for a 20,000 capacity quarter-final against Clermont in the RDS three seasons ago.
Akin to the IRFU, Leinster chief executive Mick Dawson says that the champions of the last two years don’t budget for reaching the knock-out stages. “But it’s very important and I suppose what happens regularly you get used to. So to not be there would be very disappointing for us and our supporters.
But if we don’t make it, we will be very, very keen to compete as best wecan in the Amlin.”
While Dawson would not divulge how much Leinster themselves would have earned financially in each of the last two seasons, he did say: “Certainly you’d get bonuses from sponsors and gate money from a home quarter-final, but while moneyis very important it’s not so much about that. It’s about showcasing your club and putting yourself out there as one of the top teams in Europe.”