Wellington - New Zealand Rugby (NZR) on Thursday revealed that next year's British and Irish Lions tour will be crucial to its finances, underpinning a five-year plan to break even by 2020.
NZR said it recorded a NZ$463 000 loss in 2015, despite the All Blacks becoming the first team to ever to win back-to-back Rugby World Cups.
While that was less than the NZ$955 000 deficit the organisation was expecting, NZR said the figure was set to blow out to NZ$10 million this year as it ploughs extra funds into provincial unions.
Chairperson Brent Impey said the NZR was still in a "favourable financial position" with cash reserves of NZ$59.1 million, but it needed to find ways to generate extra revenue.
"We face a revenue challenge if we hope to continue growing investment in the game," he said in a statement.
"We are forecasting losses in four of the five years, with the exception being next year with the British and Irish Lions.
"Our aim is to reach break-even over the period, but it is clear already that this will be a big challenge."
The NZR's annual report released on Thursday did not provide a breakdown of projected losses or how much next year's Lions tour is expected to bolster the bottom line.
However, it said last year that demand was set to exceed the composite team's last tour in 2005, when 20 000 travelling fans created a boisterous atmosphere and injected an estimated NZ$135 million into the economy.
No Lions squad has won a series in New Zealand since 1971. Next year's tourists face a packed 10-match schedule, including three Tests against the All Blacks.