For the first time, Queensland is Australia’s leading state for Rugby participation and saw a 37 per cent increase in Queenslanders playing Rugby in 2013, according to the Australian Rugby Union’s (ARU) Annual Participation Census.
259,690 Queenslanders played Rugby in 2013 with highlights including a 62% rise in sevens participation, a 6% rise in junior and senior club Rugby participation and 37,841 females participating in the game last year.
Queensland Rugby CEO, Jim Carmichael, said: “In 2013 Queensland became the largest rugby market overall in Australia. Queensland is a very competitive sporting environment and growing participation is one of the corner stones of Queensland Rugby’s future generation strategy.
“The scale and growth strategy to ensure the success and sustainability of the code is evidenced in these 2013 Queensland participation results, announced by the ARU today.
“We are pleased to see that over a quarter of a million Queenslanders are playing Rugby, sometimes for the first time. It’s our job to ensure that they carry on playing the sport in 2014 and form a lifelong love of the game.
“Queensland Rugby’s Game Development team has delivered an outstanding range of programs in 2013, and the 37 per cent rise in overall participation in Queensland demonstrates that our strategy to drive awareness and participation in the sport is bearing fruit.
“Also, as Rugby prepares to become an Olympic sport in Rio 2016, it is pleasing that a significant number of young male and female Queenslanders are getting their first experiences of Rugby through our Rugby sevens programs, and that our overall female and junior club numbers have seen strong growth,” Mr Carmichael added.
Acting Queensland Minister for Sport, Glen Elmes, said: “Increasing participation rates is one of the Queensland Government’s main objectives and it’s great to see Queensland Rugby and their Rugby Union clubs across the State leading the country and improving fitness levels and the health of Queenslanders as a result.
“Participation is a driver of the Government’s flagship Get in the Game initiative and we want to see more people getting active more often. We’re helping to make this happen, with more than 24,000 Get Started vouchers issued so far to assist children and young people to play Rugby and other sports.”
The ARU confirmed that nationally more people participated in Rugby across Australia in the past year than ever before, with 615,809 participants in 2013, an increase of 27.5 per cent on 2012.
Participation in Rugby Sevens grew more than 40% in the past year, equating to an additional 15,864 participants taking part in the faster and lower contact version of Rugby in 2013 compared to 2012.
ARU CEO, Bill Pulver, said increasing participation at all levels of Rugby and creating an inclusive Australian Rugby community is critical to the game’s long-term success.
“Growing Rugby, particularly in new markets using the exciting Sevens format of our game is critical to the long-term sustainability of Rugby as we strive to ignite passion in the next generation of players and fans,” Mr Pulver said.