The building of the Hawke's Bay Rugby Union's Community Training Centre was a key factor in the union's equity increasing by almost $500,000 last year.

Speaking before tonight's annual meeting of the union in Napier finance committee chairman Craig Riddiford said the equity increased by $491,324 to $1,768,750. Riddiford and union chief executive Jay Campbell pointed out grants and donations for the centre were influential in the union's revenue increasing by $436,624 to $4,579,112 during the financial year ending on November 30.

Grant income for the centre amounted to $560,000. Expenses for the centre amounted to $83,215 and this left the centre with a net surplus of $476,785.

For the 21st consecutive year the union recorded a surplus. While the $14,539 surplus was $95,395 less than the previous year's it was just under the $15,000 the union was aming for.

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"In a challenging environment we've done well," Riddiford said.

"We're succeeding both on and off the field. We're delivering on the field with our development programmes and we're getting things right off it," Campbell said.

"We will focus on continuing to be sustainable and delivering all rugby programmes."

The New Zealand Rugby Union's grant to the union increased by $185,334 to $1,777,465. Campbell pointed out $90,000 of this was for the union's women's programme.

"We also met a lot of the national union's key performance indicators."

Total expenses for the union increased $527,674 to $4,546,711. Campbell said more money was invested into the community game for software for video analysis. Travel grants for clubs increased by $4,345 to $17,863.

Rugby development expenses increased by $151,243 to $1,260,543. Campbell said Magpies assistant coach Josh Syms was doing "a fantastic job" with first XV and club coaches.

Magpies scrum coach Francisco Deformes has also been doing a lot of work with promising frontrowers and the safety component of forward play.

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Riddiford said the union will aim for a surplus of $5,810 this year.

Team expenses increased by $223,795 to $2,098,327. The union spent $1,895,047 on the Magpies last year - $209,310 more than the previous year.

Expenses for the Hawke's Bay Tui women's NPC team amounted to $37,310 - $7,209 more than last year. Campbell pointed out the union had two new rep teams last year, a Saracens under-18 side and a co-ed under-15 team.

NPC match income increased by $64,618 to $171,001 and Campbell said the key reason for this increase was the Magpies home semifinal against Otago.

Sponsorship income for the union increased by $6,739 to $1,936,644.

"Dan [commercial manager Somerville] and his team are in a good space. Fantastic community support from all of our businesses allows us to do what we have to do," Campbell said.

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Riddiford pointed out new principal sponsor Total Oil's contribution was significant.

The union's administration expenses dropped $22,416 to $311,620.

Meanwhile the only change to the top table tonight saw Clive Rugby and Sports Club life member Neil Pulford elected as president. He replaced Hastings Rugby and Sports Club stalwart Paul Daniel who retired by rotation.

Pulford, who is also a Hawke's Bay Rowing Club life member, had two terms on the board before retiring by rotation in 2015. Director Mark Sowman sought re-election after retiring by rotation and was re-elected unopposed.

Co-opted director Mavis Mullins was reappointed again after her first term ended.

In his outgoing speech Daniel urged clubs to get their sponsorship early this season in case the coronavirus impacts on revenue raised by Hawke's Bay businesses.

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"We are very fortunate here in the Bay with a professional board and massive support from the community and businesses. But we will be in for a shake up if the virus impacts on businesses," Daniel warned.

Commenting on possible mergers of provinces around the country, union chairman Brendan Mahony, said he will have more detail after his union hosts a New Zealand Rugby Union Road Show on Friday. Representatives of the Hawke's Bay, Whanganui, Manawatu, Povery Bay and East Coast unions have been invited along with delegates from New Zealand Maori Rugby.

"We are not going to take any changes lying down. All this talk has galvanised the country," Mahony said.

Campbell pointed out the challenges facing New Zealand Rugby aren't new with less people watching Super Rugby and Mitre 10 Cup rugby. But he said his union's focus will always be on growing the game.

"We experienced an increase in teenage male players last year. But nationally the numbers are going south and that has been the trend for the last 10 years."

Campbell said 11,000 fans attended Saturday night's Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and Sunwolves in Napier. He was hopeful of being allocated another fixture in future and he had plenty of positive feedback from the Sunwolves who spent the week in Napier.

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Hastings Rugby and Sports Club delegate Jack Sanders urged the union to think about its club competitions and questioned the logic behind last year's Maddison Trophy finalists, Napier Old Boys Marist and his club, meeting in the first round of the Nash Cup on March 21.

"This fixture would have been better towards the end of the round," Sanders said.

Sanders also asked why clubs weren't allowed the services of their academy and Hurricanes under-20 players for pre-season fixtures. Campbell told him the Hurricanes have first pick of these players until the end of March.

Union officers elected:
Patron, Neil Thimbleby; president, Neil Pulford; chairman, Brendan Mahony; secretary, Grant Gilbert; directors, Peter Davis, Danny Gough, Mark Hamilton, Steve Lunn, Mavis Mullins, Craig Riddiford, Mark Sowman.