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, of which 1,124,262 are in Oceania, now playing the game worldwide, according to the World Rugby Year in Review 2016. CLICK HERE FOR FULL WORLD RUGBY YEAR IN REVIEW 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 its 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. In Oceania, nearly 80,000 girls and boys participated in the programme, inspired by the golden performances of the region’s teams. Australia’s women became rugby’s first Olympic champions since 1924, while Fiji’s men secured their first ever Olympic medal in spectacular style in a year in which both nations also won the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series titles. Off the field, the Oceania Rugby Super Week conference was hosted in Fiji, with more than 80 delegates discussing key topics, including sports science and medicine. Oceania Rugby also signed an agreement with the Oceania National Olympic Committees to delivers sports administration courses across the Pacific. 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 globally 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, including 31,100 in Oceania, while in nine countries, the number of girls participating outnumbers boys. 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. Further key growth figures from the World Rugby Year in Review 2016 include:
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. “This was particular apparent in Oceania, where it was a truly golden year, with Australia’s women and Fiji’s men being crowned rugby sevens Olympic champions. These inspirational performances, alongside their HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series titles helped boost the number of girls and boys participating in Get Into Rugby programmes to nearly 80,000 and the total number playing the game to more than 1,100,000. This, combined with developments off the field, including an agreement with the Oceania National Olympic Committees to provide sports administration courses, mean it is a trend that looks set to continue. “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.” EDITORS’ NOTES Get Into Rugby is World Rugby’s mass participation programme which aims to encourage players of all ages to Try, Play and Stay in rugby. The programme promotes the values of the game and allows children to experience rugby in a safe and progressive environment. Launched in 2012, almost two million participants were involved in Get Into Rugby activities in 2016 across 129 active unions, 39 per cent of which were female. 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.