NSW Rugby League’s total of 41,753 participants - an increase for the first time in five years (up 5.54 per cent from 39,560) – along with the Country Rugby League’s total of 59,405, takes the combined total of participants across the state to 101,158. 

Of those, 16,337 are females, representing the largest growth area of the game, which is also reflected in events such as the State Female Finals Day for schoolgirls aged from under 12 to under 18 being staged for the second year at St Marys Stadium today.

In NSWRL competitions, female participation mirrors the national trend, with an increase of 50.26 percent (up from 3032 in 2017 to 4556 in 2018). That figure represents 70 per cent of overall growth in NSWRL numbers in the past 12 months, which translates to participation growth at a rate of 7:3 (females:males). 

Other key NSWRL participation statistics include:

  • Retention rate of 70.6 per cent, which is above the national average (68.3)
  • Biggest growth area, 10-12 years girls – increase 87.34 per cent (755 up from 403)
  • Total participants seven years and under – increase 8.09 per cent (6775 up from 6268)
  • Registered volunteers – increase 13.5 per cent (9187 up from 8091)
  • Registered coaches – increase 18 per cent (3581 up from 3103)
  • Growth in Sydney’s west – Western Suburbs District (13 per cent), Penrith (4.5 per cent) and Parramatta (3.25 per cent) - and south -Cronulla District (12.75 per cent).

NSWRL Head of Football Barrie-Jon Mather said he was thrilled more people are playing Rugby League but even more excited about the significantly improved retention rate of 70.6 per cent, which is up from 65 per cent and better than the national average

He said this underlined the success of the organisation’s strategy to employ seven district Club Competitions Coordinators (CCCs) last year.

“It’s great to see children wanting to come back and play footy,” Mather said. “It shows the quality of the environment they are playing in.