Rugby player numbers increase for fourth consecutive year

by Staff Writer

• National Player numbers at all time high;

• National Junior numbers increase for fifth consecutive year;

• Queensland and NSW Junior numbers continue to grow; and

• Senior playing numbers hit record highs in Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria.

Australian Rugby Union today announced participation numbers had grown for a fourth consecutive year delivering Rugby a record number of players to clubs and schools across the country in 2011.

Following on from last year’s record breaking participation figures, which saw numbers surpass the 200,000 mark for the first time in the game’s history, ARU today 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),

• VRU Seniors up 1.4% to 2,537 (Record),

• Rugby WA Seniors up 3.9% to 3,273 (Record)

• SARU 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 CEO, John O’Neill AO, welcomed the record participation figures.

“These represent historic highs for our game and are very pleasing,” Mr O’Neill said.

“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%

Today’s announcement comes on the eve of Rugby’s inaugural National Registration Day, which is being held around the country this Saturday, 18 February.

ARU and Australia’s five FxPro Super Rugby teams have joined forces in a nationwide campaign to recruit new players to the game.

National Registration Day will allow players of all ages – juniors and seniors – 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.

Mr O’Neill said he hoped National Registration Day would assist in delivering Rugby a fifth consecutive year of participation growth.

“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,” Mr O’Neill said.

“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.”

Minister for Sport, Mark Arbib, congratulated Rugby on the record breaking participation figures.

“It is great to see Rugby enjoying such consistent growth right across the country,” Mr Arbib said.

“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.

“The Australian Government has provided $666,000 in 2011/12 to the ARU for participation initiatives in Rugby.

“Like many sports, Rugby encourages and fosters a sense of teamwork and sportsmanship, and it is fantastic to see the game experience a fourth consecutive year of growth.

“With Men’s and Women’s Rugby Sevens to be included at the Rio 2016 Olympics, it is encouraging to see participation numbers growing in the sport.”

Details on National Registration Day can be found at

A list of events in Australia’s five FxPro Super Rugby cities is below.


Sydney Waratahs HQ, Sydney Football Stadium 10.30am - 12.30pm

Brisbane Ballymore 11.00am - 2.00pm

Melbourne Gosch's Paddock 4.00pm - 6.00pm

Canberra Brumbies HQ, Austin St, Griffin 12.00pm - 2.00pm

Perth Check with your local club

** For information on How / Where to Register for State's outside of those listed in the above table click here

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