Get Into Rugby expansion drives World Rugby growth in 2016
- Nearly two million girls and boys, including 610,700 in Asia, participated in Get Into Rugby in 2016
- 5 million men, women and children, of which 562,535 are in Asia, now playing the game
- Women and girls account for more than a quarter of all global players
- Thirty-nine per cent of Get Into Rugby participants in 2016 female
Close to two million (1,990,300) girls and boys in 129 nations, took part in World Rugby’s mass participation programme Get Into Rugby in 2016, almost double the number of participants in 2015.
The success of the grassroots scheme continues to drive the growth of the sport globally, with 8.5 million men, women and children now playing the game worldwide, according to the World Rugby Year in Review 2016.
2016 was a landmark year for World Rugby, with the sport’s return to the Olympic programme at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games contributing to huge growth and continued popularity worldwide. Get Into Rugby plays a vital role in that growth by opening up the sport to more countries and more people than ever before.
Of World Rugby’s six regional associations, Asia Rugby (610,700) saw the greatest number of Get Into Rugby participants in 2016, boosted by the build-up to Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The year also saw Asia Rugby launch Project Asia 1 Million, as part of Asia’s IMPACT Beyond Rugby World Cup 2019, with the aim of attracting one million new participants to the sport by Tokyo 2020. As part of this, 25 nations attended a four-day workshop designed to increase the capacity and capability of unions to grow the game. Alongside this, US$100 million is to be invested in China by Alisports over the next 10 years to support professional league structures and a Get Into Rugby programme.
Globally, 10 new countries adopted the Get Into Rugby programme in 2016 – Guatemala, Morocco, Luxembourg, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Anguilla, Macau, Ethiopia and Bolivia – which saw more than 30,000 trained personnel deliver activities in 129 countries across 2,250 locations.
Pleasingly, 39 per cent of Get Into Rugby participants worldwide in 2016 were female, while in nine countries, the number of girls participating outnumbers boys. In Asia, there has been a meteoric rise in girls trying out the sport, up from 53,000 in 2015 to 235,200 in 2016. This growth is set to continue under the leadership of World Rugby’s new General Manager for Women’s Rugby Katie Sadleir, who is overseeing the development of a landmark new strategy to further boost women’s rugby.
In addition to the Get Into Rugby programme, 85 unions, supported by the six regional associations, organised over 200 events attended by more than 60,000 participants as part of World Rugby’s IMPACT Beyond Rio 2016 project, which encouraged unions to organise activities to coincide with the Olympic Games to promote rugby and attract new players and fans. Across Asia, 22 unions staged activities, with more than 22,000 participants.
Further key growth figures from the World Rugby Year in Review 2016 report include:
- 8.5 million men, women and children now playing the game in World Rugby member unions – an increase of eight per cent from 2015
- 2.2 million women and girls accounting for more than a quarter of players in World Rugby member unions – this is an increase of 142 per cent since 2012.
- The addition of two new member unions (Guatemala and Slovakia) bringing the total number of affiliated nations to 121 – 103 full members and 18 associate members
- 300 million fans worldwide – an increase of 50 million new fans over the past 12 months thanks in part to a record-breaking Rugby World Cup 2015 and rugby’s return to the Olympic Games at Rio 2016
- 4.7 million new users on World Rugby sites over the course of 2016 and 900,000 new fans on World Rugby social media platforms
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “2016 was a fantastic year for World Rugby in more ways than one. Firstly, we saw rugby’s successful return to the Olympic Games with the world’s best sevens players lighting up Rio 2016 with a riveting display of passion and skill. This helped set the stage for our development programmes, Get Into Rugby and IMPACT Beyond, which successfully harnessed the momentum of the Games to deliver real engagement and significant growth.
“Asia has been at the heart of this growth with 610,700 participating in Get Into Rugby in 2016 and 562,535 now playing the sport in the region. With the launch of Project Asia 1 Million and significant investment in China we are confident this trend will continue as we build-up to Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“Globally, with 8.5 million people playing and enjoying rugby across the world, the game continues to go from strength to strength. Get Into Rugby, with nearly two million participants in 2016, is evidence of how our vibrant, values-driven sport is reaching out and engaging new players and fans worldwide. Particularly pleasing is the significant uplift in female participation. With 39 per cent of all Get Into Rugby participants and 2.2 million registered female players worldwide, rugby continues to set the pace as one of the fastest growing women’s team sports in the world.”
The new Get Into Rugby website – getintorugby.worldrugby.org – is now available in 15 languages: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Brazilian, Portuguese, Arabic, Indonesian, Japanese, Dutch, German, Polish, Romanian, Hungarian, Korean and Russian.