“We are very pleased that Africa has shown the greatest development of the game through the Get into Rugby program. These results are due to the hard work and commitment of all the Regional Development Officers, and the high level of administration within Rugby Africa all who have collaborated extensively with World Rugby in order to ensure the programs’ success. We have always been confident that Africa has massive skills potential, which is just as important as growing the number of players involved in the game. I would like to congratulate all those involved who have achieved these results. I am certain that African rugby will continue to be up to the challenge in the future.” Abdelaziz Bougja, Rugby Africa’s chairman
- Nearly two million girls and boys participated in Get Into Rugby, including 382,500 in Africa, in 2016
- 8.5 million men, women and children, of which 771,459 are in Africa, now playing the game worldwide
- 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 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 Africa, participation in Get Into Rugby surpassed 380,000, boosted by the establishment of new wide-ranging training courses, enabling unions to autonomously deliver Get Into Rugby programmes. Rugby Africa, the regional association, marked its 30th anniversary by drawing up a new five-year strategic plan for the sport, which is now played by 771,459 people in the region. The year also saw Zimbabwe host the World Rugby U20 Trophy, while in men’s sevens South Africa won bronze at Rio 2016 and Kenya their first-ever HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Cup title, inspiring further participation and fan growth.
Ten 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, 38 per cent in the Rugby Africa region, 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 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.
“Rugby Africa has seen participation in Get Into Rugby surpass 380,000 in 2016, boosted by inspirational performances on the pitch, including South Africa’s men’s sevens bronze medal-winning performance at Rio 2016 and Kenya’s men clinching their first-ever HSBC World Rugby Sevens title. Thanks to new training initiatives and an exciting new strategic plan this trend is 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, 38 per cent in the Rugby Africa region, 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.”