New Zealand Rugby's 2015 registration numbers show that more girls and women are getting involved with rugby and total player numbers remain strong.
This year has seen the highest ever number of females take to the rugby field, a record 150,727 this year have participated compared to 150,564 last year.
General Manager Community and Provincial Union Rugby Brent Anderson said the steady numbers reflected the special place rugby has in communities across the country.
“City and rural, north and south, in every corner of New Zealand rugby remains popular. We saw recently how our national game unites the country. It’s been a very special year.”
In 2014, the largest increase in numbers was among female players, up from 17,825 to 19,792 this year.
Anderson adds that it's an exciting time for women's rugby following the Black Ferns and New Zealand Women's Sevens winning on the world stage and the talent pool growing at grass roots level.
He says, “Our Women’s Rugby Strategy has ambitious goals and we're on our way to achieving our target of 21,000 female players by 2021. Rippa Rugby, a non-contact form of the game played by both boys and girls, is growing in popularity and encourages young girls to take up the game. We’re working hard to make sure they have opportunities to play as they move into high school and beyond.”
Anderson says Rugby New Zealand will now turn their support towards getting more men, women, teenagers and kids signed up to play in the new year.
"We had an increase in 2012 after the All Blacks Rugby World Cup win and we hope to repeat that next year. With Sevens in the Olympic Games in 2016, it’s an exciting time for our national game."