Australia’s Sevens Olympic success has helped rugby soar into the top 10 primary school sports of the past year.
School program ‘Game On’ is expected to crack 50,000 participants in its second year and ranks among the eighth most popular primary school sports initiative, up from 28th in 2015, according to Australian Sports Commission data.
The data shows rugby moving beyond its traditional private school, male base, with 60 per cent of the participants coming from public schools and nearly half of the students involved female.
‘Game On’ goes for five weeks, teaching students basic skills, ending with a Viva7s carnival, with students playing the non-contact form of the game and the proliferation of the program has helped junior club rugby participation grow by 3.5 per cent.
ARU community rugby and strategy general manager Andrew Larratt said the growth of Game On had surpassed expectations.
“When ‘Game On’ launched last year, we thought we would reach 50,000 participants by 2020, and to almost reach that number in just the second year of the program is just incredible,” he said.
“Off the back of the debut of Rugby Sevens at the Olympics, we have seen a remarkable thirst for rugby in primary schools. There are thousands of young kids out there who want to play the same game they watched on television when our women’s team won that historic gold medal. We’re delighted that with the ASC’s support, we’ve been able to bring rugby to these primary students.
“We want to make rugby a game for all, and through Game On, Australian Rugby is working to inspire more Australians – children and their parents – to enjoy our great game.
“The success of this program so far is a credit to rugby’s Development Officers in all states who are getting into schools and showing kids the joy that rugby can bring."