The recent trend of declining club rugby participation has been reversed in Queensland for the first time in two years, according to interim figures obtained by RUGBY.com.au.
Club rugby participation numbers in Queensland have increased so far in 2018 by 7.5 percent with the green shoots of recovery most obvious in cities and at junior clubs across the state.
QRU interim CEO David Hanham said the results were reward for hard yards put in by staff on the ground across the state.
"We’ve seen an increase in club rugby participation throughout the state this year," Hanham said.
"We’re seeing growth in the metropolitan areas of Queensland and particularly in junior rugby between the ages of 8 and 12.
"The QRU has been working closely with our clubs to improve participation figures and collectively we are beginning to reap some benefits."
One of the most eye catching areas of growth has been in female participation.Charlotte Caslick-pigtails are being worn across the state as girls look to emulate Olympic superstars like Brisbane-born Caslick and Roma’s Emilee Cherry - the success of this year’s Commonwealth Games a further shot in the arm for girls realising they can achieve their dreams through rugby.
With four months left in 2018 - a time frame which will showcase the Aon Uni 7s competition - Queensland’s female participation number are projected to increase by 12 percent from 2017.
"The growth of female rugby - in particular the Sevens format - has seen more young girls participate in the sport than ever before," Hanham said.
With the successful QAS women’s program in place and Queensland’s three Uni 7s squads being a clear pathway into the national team, the base of female participation is healthy.
This year alone Student Horizons All Schools Sevens will see around 500 girls compete at Ballymore in late October.
The QRU Girls State Championships is in its second year and will also see more U15 and U17 teams compete for the state titles in the divisions than last year.
The number of new participants in Queensland’s schools being exposed to introductory rugby union programs such as Get Into Rugby is also on the rise, with around 15,000 kids throughout the state forecast to experience the program in 2018 – a 7 percent increase on last year’s result.
The number of kids participating in Queensland's revolutionary Modified Rugby has also nearly doubled since 2016.