30 Oct 2014

Rugby numbers up

11:52 am on 30 October 2014

There has been an increase in the number of people playing rugby in New Zealand.

There were 150,564 registered players this year, 2,000 more than last year.

More than 80,000 play Small Blacks rugby for those aged five to 12.

Kids playing rippa rugby

Kids playing rippa rugby Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Just over 42,000 teenagers are playing the game.

There are now almost 18,000 women playing, a 12 percent increase from 2013.

New Zealand Rugby's General Manager Community and Provincial Union Rugby Brent Anderson says NZR has placed particular emphasis on encouraging teenagers to stay in the game and attracting more female players of all ages.

This year they introduced the minimum playing time rule so all players under 1st XV level play at least half a game every Saturday.

Anderson says Rippa Rugby, a non-contact version of the game played by both boys and girls, is growing in popularity and encouraging females to choose rugby.

Black Ferns fullback Selica Winiata

Black Ferns fullback Selica Winiata Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Anderson says they'll be launching a plan soon to grow rugby for girls and women and they have ambitious goals.

Rugby by the numbers:

150,564 players - increase of 2,081 compared to 2013

Highest number since NZR started recording player numbers in 2001

80,249 Small Blacks (5-12 years) - increase of 1,607 (2 percent) compared to 2013

42,314 teenagers (13-20 years) - increase of 469 compared to 2013

27,821 players aged 21+ - increase of 5 compared to 2013

17,825 female players - increase of 1,912 (12 percent) compared to 2013

1,884 referees - decrease of 207 compared to 2013

11,713 coaches - decrease of 19 compared to 2013