England's World Cup victory has had a significant financial knock-on effect for the Rugby Football Union, the governing body has announced.
Each World Cup year marks the bottom of a four-year financial cycle for the northern hemisphere game.
The RFU had expected to miss out on substantial annual revenue and return a bottom line loss in the year to June 30.
But the surge of interest in the game in England since Sir Clive Woodward's side lifted the trophy led to a boom in the RFU's merchandise sales, which were twice as high as
predicted, while hospitality income also exceeded expectations.
"We expected a £9m reduction in revenue but our results our significantly better than that," said finance director Nick Eastwood.
"We expected a loss of about £6m but expect now it will be less than that.
"It's been an astonishing year in terms of retail, merchandise, licensing and ticket income and for 2004/05 we're predicting a return to a healthy bottom line."
The RFU's strong financial position - debt free with net cash assets of £30m - will underpin the redevelopment of the South Stand at Twickenham that will increase the capacity of the stadium by 8,500. Building work is expected to start in June 2005.
Peter O'Mahony was named man of the match against England last month
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