Roaring profit for New Zealand Rugby after Lions tour

Some 342,000 tickets were sold for last year's Lions tour to New Zealand (AFP Photo/MICHAEL BRADLEY)

Wellington (AFP) - New Zealand Rugby (NZR) announced a record NZ$33 million profit ($23.8 million) Thursday on the back of last year's British and Irish Lions tour.

The 10-match tour was virtually a sellout, with 342,000 tickets sold as tens of thousands of Lions fans flooded into New Zealand for an event that only happens once every 12 years.

NZR said the tour poured an extra NZ$40 million into its coffers, doubling the amount it made the last time the composite side visited in 2005.

It said government data estimated the economy as a whole benefited to the tune of NZ$245 million.

NZR generally runs at a loss -- it was NZ$7.5 million in the red last year -- and chief executive Steve Tew said the organisation would use the windfall wisely.

"The reality is we won't have those advantages over the next three years, but we have planned for that and will therefore continue to be smart about our costs and where our priorities lie," he said.

The three-Test series ended in a 1-1 draw as the Lions -- made up of players from England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland -- exceeded expectations against the world champions.