Cape Town - More Get Into Rugby activities to introduce young people to the game were organised in South Africa, along with Columbia, than anywhere else in the world in 2017, according to the most recent figures released by World Rugby.
According to the World Rugby Year in Review 2017, the game is now being played by 9.1 million people globally, of which more than a quarter are women and girls.
Since the Get Into Rugby programme was started by SA Rugby, close to 200,000 children from nine provinces have been introduced to the game.
And earlier this year, the Get Into Rugby programme was shortlisted for the Development Programme of the Year in the popular Discovery Sport Industry Awards for 2018.
“We’ve worked very hard at the Get Into Rugby programme and to be recognised by World Rugby for our efforts, is truly special,” said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux.
“Get Into Rugby is a very important programme and we’ll continue to do what we can with our resources to ensure as many boys and girls get introduced to this wonderful game, as the future of rugby in South Africa is in their hands.”
Get Into Rugby has been a major catalyst behind the global rise in participation numbers, acting as a gateway for young people to try, play and stay in rugby. In 2017, more than two million (2,139,300) girls and boys across 133 active unions took part in the programme, an increase of 7.5 per cent compared to 2016.
Colombia and South Africa delivered the most Get Into Rugby activities throughout 2017, while Oceania Rugby oversaw an increasing number of mixed-gender events, driving forward rugby’s message of a game for all.
World Rugby Chairperson, Bill Beaumont said: “2017 was another exceptional year for rugby on and off the field. Within a total growing playing population of 9.1 million it was exciting to see more than 2.1 million children try rugby via our Get Into Rugby programme run in partnership with unions and regions.
“Particularly pleasing is the level of female participation both in Get Into Rugby and overall during a record-breaking Women’s Rugby World Cup year. Thirty-nine per cent of Get Into Rugby participants in 2017 were female, and there are now more than 2.4 million registered female players worldwide.”
Get Into Rugby promotes the character-building values of the game and allows children to experience rugby in a safe and progressive environment. Launched in 2013, a total of 5,948,556 participants have progressed through the programme.
The dedicated Get Into Rugby website is now available in 15 languages: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Brazilian, Portuguese, Arabic, Indonesian, Japanese, Dutch, German, Polish, Romanian, Hungarian, Korean and Russian.