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Rugby reaches historic participation high

Rugby reaches historic participation high
February 21, 2012

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has announced that participation numbers in 2011 had grown for a fourth consecutive year delivering rugby a record number of players to clubs and schools across the country.

Following on from 2010's record breaking participation figures, which saw numbers surpass the 200,000 mark for the first time in the game's history, ARU announced another milestone had been reached with playing numbers topping 250,000. 

Overall a record 261,437 people played rugby in 2011, which was an increase of 52,404 (25.1%) on 2010.

A total of 47,430 juniors played in 2011 increasing rugby's junior playing numbers by 1.1% nationally.

The 2011 Qantas Walla Rugby Week, which enjoyed record numbers last year, helped deliver more than 111,063 players to school carnivals, gala days and competitions across Australia boosting school participation by a huge 86.3%.

Other key areas of participation in 2011 included:

• NSW Juniors up 1.4% to 20,458 (Record),
• Overall playing numbers in NSW up 21.2% to 101,690 (Record),
• QLD Juniors up 1.8% to 15,202 (Record),
• Overall playing numbers in QLD up 31.4% to 76,033 (Record), 
• Vicorian Rugby Union Seniors up 1.4% to 2,537 (Record),
• Rugby WA Seniors up 3.9% to 3,273 (Record)
• South Australian Rugby Union Seniors up 5.4% to 1,013 (Record and the first time senior playing numbers have broken 1,000 in South Australia).

ARU Managing Director and Chief Executive, John O'Neill AO, welcomed the record participation figures, stating "these represent historic highs for our game and are very pleasing.

"They also reinforce the fact we are continuing to grow the game of Rugby across the country, winning the hearts and minds of the Australian sporting public.

"Last year was a big year for Rugby in Australia on and off the paddock, with the Qantas Wallabies first Castrol Edge Tri Nations title in a decade, record TV viewership numbers and these historic participation figures.

"This is the fourth consecutive year that Rugby has experienced a growth in its playing numbers, which is good news in one of the most competitive sporting markets in the world."

Where the players are:

• NSW 41.78%,
• QLD 31.24%,
• ACT 10.12%
• WA 8.57%
• VIC 4.33%
• SA 2.66%
• NT 0.80%
• TAS 0.49%

Last weekend saw the ARU launch its inaugural National Registration Day, which saw the ARU and Australia's five Super Rugby teams join forces in a nationwide campaign to recruit new players to the game. 

National Registration Day will allowed players of all ages the chance to get information on rugby in 2012, sign up with a local club and meet their favourite FxPro Super Rugby and Qantas Wallabies stars.

O'Neill said he hoped National Registration Day would assist in delivering Rugby a fifth consecutive year of participation growth, adding "last year's participation figures tell us that we managed to capitalise on the buzz that surrounded the game with the expansion of Super Rugby and the anticipation of a Rugby World Cup later in the season.

"We have another exciting year of Rugby ahead of us with the FxPro Super Rugby competition, four Castrol Edge Rugby Internationals in June and The Castrol Edge Rugby Championship kicking-off in August and we are determined to ensure the growth at the grassroots levels of the game is also maintained.

"There is a lot of competition among the football codes in Australia but I'm confident people will look at what Rugby can offer them and choose to join our great game in 2012."

Federal Minister for Sport, Mark Arbib, congratulated Rugby on the record breaking participation figures, stating "it is great to see rugby enjoying such consistent growth right across the country.

"The growth in junior and school participation is particularly pleasing as it is important that children are encouraged to live healthy and active lifestyles. This is a message that Rugby delivers very well."

For more information go to

23rd February 2011 - O’NEILL TO REMAIN AT THE ARU

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