Community Rugby continues to grow across New South Wales

by Waratahs Media

Country NSW recorded a 4% rise in registered club players for juniors aged 4 to 18 years and the number of registered senior men’s players in the metro region is up 5%.

The biggest growth for girls’ rugby has been in Sevens with the Sydney Junior Rugby Unions Girls’ Sevens team numbers up from 17 in 2016 to 48 in 2017.

Overall, 37,987 players registered to play club rugby in 2017 compared to 37,379 in 2016.

Sevens rugby continues to grow and to date 7,896 players have been in action this year in Club Sevens tournaments, while 11,317 players participated in schools Sevens events.

NSW Rugby General Manager of Development, Andrew Hill, said: “It is important for us to grow our established club and school competitions while at the same time, attracting new players through our programmes and other formats of the game. Ultimately we have to retain and grow our current competitions, while expanding into non-traditional areas and schools.”

Hill said strong interest in the women’s game is driving the introduction of new competitions and the growth of emerging competitions.

NSW Rugby first introduced a Sydney Women’s Sevens Series this year, which was played during the bye weeks of the 15-a-side competition and the success of the Sydney Junior Rugby Union Girls’ Sevens competition for Under 10s - Under 18s has underpinned the new Women’s Sevens competition.

Hill said it was pleasing to see the game continuing to grow in the State.

“It is no secret that rugby has had a tough year across the country at the professional end of the game. At the community level, people are still loving rugby and there are a number of vibrant, growing clubs and schools. This is mainly due to the incredible work of the volunteers in the Clubs and schools, as well the support from the NSW Rugby Development Officers across the State.

“NSW Rugby contributed $2.06-million direct to community rugby this year, $1.16-million of which came from the NSW Waratahs and this amount is over and above the contribution of Rugby Australia. Community rugby is at heart of what we do and we are committed to growing the game,” Hill said.

Hill said while these numbers are positive, the game faced challenges in some regions.

In country NSW there was a 2% drop in the number of registered senior players and the metro junior numbers were down by 3% this year, although there were more junior teams in 2017 than in 2016. There was also a 5% drop in the number of registered fifteens metro women’s players.

“If we are going to grow the game in all areas, we need to follow the lead of some of our successful clubs and competitions, who are providing opportunities for men and women, girls and boys and juniors and seniors. If we provide these opportunities, the next challenge for us is to retain not only our players but also our coaches, managers, volunteers, administrators and all the people who make rugby great,” Hill said.

Summary of registered fifteens numbers for 2017

Metro Junior Competition

2017 Players,  Growth / Decline

Sydney Juniors, 11382, -3%

Metro Senior Competitions

2017 Players, Growth / Decline

Premiership & Subbies, 8713, 5%

Sydney Women’s, 258, -5%

*Note that this decline was anticipated due to the change in the reporting system / Team numbers were higher in 2017 than 2016

Country Junior Competitions

2017 Players, Growth / Decline

Central Coast Juniors, 1154, -3%

Central North Juniors, 955, -17%

Far North Coast Juniors, 1069, 21%

Illawarra Juniors, 1177, 4%

Mid North Coast Juniors, 707, -3%

New England Juniors, 156, 56%

Newcastle Hunter Juniors, 1780, 6%

Western Plains Juniors, 98, 92%

Central West Juniors, 1703, 12%

Country Senior Competitions

2017 Players, Growth / Decline

Country Women’s, 216, 3%

Central Coast Seniors, 989, -10%

Central North Seniors, 765, 9%

Far North Coast Seniors, 831, 7%

Illawarra Seniors, 1066, 4%

Mid North Coast Seniors, 886, 16%

New England Seniors, 415, -21% 

Newcastle Seniors, 1655, -9% 

Western Plains Seniors, 375, -2%

Central West Seniors, 1606, -6%