6 Apr 2011

Rugby playing numbers jump 20 percent globally

2:46 pm on 6 April 2011

Japan, Sri Lanka and the United States have all joined rugby's top ten participation list.

A report by the Centre for the International Business of Sport at Coventry University shows playing numbers have increased globally by almost 20 percent since the last World Cup.

While participation figures remain highest in Europe and Oceania, emerging nations are catching up with 33 percent growth in Africa, 22 percent in South America and 18 percent in Asia.

The study says growth is being driven by rugby sevens' Olympic inclusion from 2016, IRB programmes and event hosting.

Participation in China has grown by 13 percent in the past couple of years but still has less than five and a half thousand registered players among a population of one point three billion.

Whereas Sri Lanka has just over 103 thousand players among a population of 20 million and is eighth on the international playing list.

New Zealand is fifth with almost 138 thousand players, some way behind England at the top if two and a half million players.