New Zealand Rugby has posted its first profit in four years with the announcement Thursday of a NZ$5.5 million (US$3.6 million) surplus for 2021.

The positive result came despite Covid-19 forcing a postponement of the Women’s World Cup, which was to be held in New Zealand, and the Rugby Championship Tests being moved to Australia because of border restrictions and lockdowns.

“We should reflect on 2021 with a sense of pride as we emerge from a tough period on sound financial footing,” chairman Stewart Mitchell told the New Zealand Rugby annual general meeting.

Revenue was up NZ$51 million to NZ$189 million in 2021, primarily driven by increases in broadcasting revenue and sponsorship and licensing.

Expenses also rose -- by NZ$26 million to NZ$183 million – mainly due to more rugby being played than in 2020.

“A key takeaway from the last 12 months was gaining certainty around our professional competitions,” Mitchell said.

“We were able to introduce the Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika to see the creation of Super Rugby Pacific, and we cemented the first edition of the ground-breaking Super Rugby Aupiki competition.

“This certainty creates a framework for driving commercial revenue and value for our stakeholders.”

The annual meeting did not include a vote to approve a planned NZ$200 million private equity deal between New Zealand Rugby and United States investment firm Silver Lake.

The deal would see Silver Lake take a five per cent stake in NZR’s commercial assets but it needs to be first ratified by the provincial unions, which have asked for more time to evaluate the proposal.

The unions previously approved the sale of a 12.5 percent stake to Silver Lake for NZ$387.5 million but that proposal failed to win the backing of the Rugby Players’ Association.