MEDIA RELEASE: CRL Announces Positive Participation Results

Updated: September 24, 2017

An increase in senior males, new and returning players and the continual growth of female participation has seen Country Rugby League record a 3.5% increase in registered players in 2017.

With one-third of all nationally registered players participating in CRL competitions, the release of national rugby league participation statistics highlights a number of positive initiatives taking place across Regional NSW.

With over 57,000 players taking the field each weekend for over 500 clubs, the increase has been evenly spread with all six CRL regions experiencing growth in 2017.

CRL Operations Manager Bert Lowrie believes the increase is a result of many unique approaches to the individual challenges that regional areas face at a community sports level.

“The changing landscape of community sports indicates there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to increasing junior and senior participation,” Lowrie said.

“Country Rugby League services a large area of varying landscapes and demographics that require individual approaches to their needs and we’ve seen some really positive results achieved this season.”

Whilst acknowledging the challenge created through this approach, Lowrie highlighted some of the unique achievements made by groups throughout the season.

“We’ve seen small areas like Group 16 register over 1000 junior players for the first time.

“Proactive committees like Group 20 JRL engaging their communities through ‘come and try’ initiatives and flexible age policies.

“Areas like Group 19 have welcomed sides back into their senior competitions to record increases in both male and female participation in areas where the tyranny of distance can be a burden.

“Whilst it’s rewarding to see these achievements; we’re aware that initiatives and competition structures that work in one region won’t work in another and it’s important that we continue working with our groups and clubs towards finding the approach that works best for them.”

The continual growth of female participation in rugby league is particularly evident in regional NSW where a 32% increase now represents over 9000 players and 50% of all nationally registered females playing in CRL tackle and tag competitions.

“Ladies League Tag has been an overwhelming success for Country Rugby League, with every group across regional NSW hosting competitions.

“The positive impact these teams have had on their local clubs and communities can’t be underestimated and it’s exciting to see new and existing players registering for our CRL Women’s Nines tackle competitions at an equally impressive rate.

“The ability to provide both tackle and tag versions of the game is extremely important and opens up a range of exciting pathways for female players in the near future.”

Despite the positives to come out of the recent statistics, Lowrie acknowledged the challenges that still exist; particularly in teenage participation.

“The changing landscape will always produce challenges and the area of teenage participation is something Country Rugby League, and the game as a whole, are looking at closely.

“We’re seeing more people being introduced and returning to the game and we’ve seen a small increase in senior male participation this year which is always pleasing; particularly in areas with small populations and considerable distances to travel.

“Country Rugby League continues to work closely with the National Rugby League and state bodies on all issues concerning participation and we’re confident we’ll see improvements in teenage participation in the near future.”