Further proof that the popularity of Rugby is continuing to grow around the world came from Australia this week as another record-breaking year for participation was announced by the ARU as more than 300,000 people are now playing the game in that country.
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 per cent) on 2011 numbers, 55 per cent on 2010 playing numbers and 68 per cent growth from 2009.
The news comes as a boost to the IRB’s stated commitment to grow the Game worldwide to more than six million players by 2016 through is innovative and exciting Get Into Rugby programme. This initiative has been developed with the aim of maximising the enormous appetite in new and emerging Rugby nations, stimulated by Rugby Sevens' inclusion in the Olympic Games programme.
Meanwhile, the fact that mature Rugby markets such as Australia are posting such strong player numbers is also encouraging. 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.
Acting ARU Chief Executive Matt Carroll said the figures released today highlighted Rugby’s continued growth in one of the most highly contested sporting marketplaces in the world.
Carroll said: “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.”
“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 and Irish Lions tour is the biggest Rugby event to be held on Australian soil since Rugby World Cup 2003 and ARU is working hard to ensure we capitalise on the excitement that is generated from the tour.”
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- Listen to this week's Total Rugby show