Fourth consecutive year of growth sees player numbers surpass 300,000 for the first time, with a total of 323,115 players in 2012;
National Junior numbers increase for sixth consecutive year, breaking 50,000 for the first time;
Rugby Sevens enjoys 150% growth from 2011, further cementing its place as one of the fastest growing sports in Australia;
National School participation numbers grow for a fourth consecutive year;
NSW, QLD, Victoria, WA and ACT all experience growth in Junior and Senior Rugby numbers.
Australian Rugby Union today announced another record breaking year for participation after recording more than 300,000 players for the first time in its history.
Never before have so many players participated in Rugby since the game was introduced to Australia in the mid-1800s.
A record total of 323,115 players enjoyed the game in Australia in 2012, an increase of 61,678 (23.6%) on 2011 numbers, 55% on 2010 playing numbers and 68% growth from 2009.
The strength of the game in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia and the ACT continued to grow with Junior and Senior numbers recording growth across the five regions.
It was the third consecutive year NSW and Victoria Junior numbers had risen and the fourth year in a row Senior playing numbers have increased in Victoria and Junior numbers have increased in Queensland.
A snapshot of the key areas of participation in 2012:
NSW Juniors up 3.3% to 21,135 (Record)
NSW Seniors up 3.8% to 19,550 (Record)
NSW overall playing numbers up 12.4% to 114,350 (Record)
QLD Juniors up 9.2% to 16,593 (Record)
QLD overall playing numbers up 49.8% to 113,932 (Record)
Victorian Juniors up 11.7% to 1,969 (Record)
Victorian Overall playing numbers up 70.8% to 17,994 (Record)
ACT Seniors up 3.1% to 3,048 (Record)
ACT Juniors up 5.3% to 4,495
ACT overall playing numbers up 11.2% to 27,399 (Record)
Western Australia Seniors up 10.4% to 3,614 (Record)
Western Australia Juniors up 12.9% to 4,183 (Record)
National Rugby Sevens playing numbers up 150.4% to 39,003 (Record)
Irregular Schools playing numbers up 50.3% to 166,913 (Record)
Acting ARU CEO, Matt Carroll AM, said the figures released today highlighted Rugby’s continued growth in one of the most highly contested sporting marketplaces in the world.
“These figures are exciting and show that Rugby is continuing to grow its playing numbers across the country, winning the hearts and minds of the Australian sporting public,” Mr Carroll said.
“This is now the fourth year that the game has experienced growth, which reinforces that the game is heading in the right direction as we enter one of the most highly anticipated years in Australian Rugby.
“The British & Irish Lions Tour is the biggest Rugby event to be held on Australian soil since the 2003 Rugby World Cup and ARU is working hard to ensure we capitalise on the excitement that is generated from the Tour.
“I am hopeful that in 12 months’ time we will be announcing a fifth consecutive year of growth and another record participation figure.”
After entering its first official four year Olympic cycle Rugby Sevens enjoyed a huge boost to playing numbers in 2012.
A total of 39,003 people were engaged with Sevens in 2012, with the game proving exceptionally popular in Queensland, NSW, South Australia, the ACT, Victoria and Western Australia.
Mr Carroll said the inclusion of Rugby Sevens in the Olympic program was attracting more people to the game.
“The growth experienced by Rugby Sevens in 2012 is very exciting for the future of the game in Australia at the grassroots and elite levels,” Mr Carroll said.
“While this is just the second year we have collected data on the number of players participating in Rugby Sevens it is certainly pleasing to see such a large amount of growth in the game over the past 12 months.
“Increasing our national participation numbers in Rugby Sevens by more than 20,000 players reinforces that it is one of the fastest growing sports in Australia.
“The Rugby Sevens gala days, schools tournaments and talent identification camps undertaken by ARU’s High Performance team, Community Rugby department and the State Unions is to be commended.
“With the Olympic games less than four years away it is important to ensure we continue to grow the game of Sevens from the grassroots up.”
Where the players are: