ENGLAND will hit the biggest jackpot in world rugby if they complete the Six Nations Grand Slam this season – £6,000,000.
Prize money for the 15-match championship starting next weekend stands at an all-time high of £16m, an amount achieved despite a steep depreciation in title sponsorship over a bungled deal three years ago.
The Rugby Paper understands that gross commercial revenue for the Six Nations has gone beyond £100m, making this year’s tournament the richest. For the first time, the country finishing bottom will win a seven-figure sum, making the wooden spoon feel more like a silver one.
Another Slam will guarantee the winner more than one third of the prize fund. England, the short-priced favourites for a Slam, stand to win more over the next six weeks than their total bonus payments in reaching the World Cup final in Japan.
Wales open their title defence against Italy in Cardiff on Saturday knowing that a repeat performance under new management will earn them more than the £5m they won last year.
Win or lose, all six countries can count on another reminder that there is no business like Six Nations business. Three-quarters of the revenue divided equally is understood to be worth around £13.5m per country.
With prize money accounting for 15 per cent of the total, the remaining ten per cent is distributed based on the number of clubs in each country. England and France claim the lion’s share in that respect, increasing their cut by another £3m each.
Almost half the tournament’s income derives from its television rights deal with BBC and ITV, a six-year agreement worth more in this, its penultimate year. Having joined forces to trump Sky’s bid five years ago, they will be prepared to do the same to keep the event on terrestrial television and renew the contract before it expires next year.
Sources claim that the damage caused by the sudden devaluation in title sponsorship has been repaired by a number of new overseas broadcast deals and at least one new elite sponsor.
In 2017, RBS offered £56m to extend their long-term backing of the championship for four years, a sum which the majority of the Six Nations’ organising committee had been willing to accept despite falling short of its avowed aim of a six-year deal worth £100m.
Scotland and Wales objected in the mistaken belief that the Six Nations were selling themselves short, that the event was worth more. By the time they realised it wasn’t, RBS had withdrawn an offer which would have increased prize money to roughly its current figure.
Natwest stepped into the breach for one season only at a knock-down £9m. When Guinness took over last year, the price had taken another massive hit, dropping a further 50 per cent to £6m. Under the terms of the six-year contract, the price will rise but even if it doubles by the final year, 2024, it will still fall short of the RBS offer.
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