A record number of people are playing rugby in New Zealand, with over 155,000 registered players throughout the country in 2016.
More than 85,000 children under 13 play rugby. This is an increase of 5% from 2015 and up almost 10% since 2012.
Our national sport is also becoming more popular amongst girls, with a surge in the number of girls under 13 picking up a rugby ball, with a 12 percent increase on 2015.
New Zealand Rugby Head of Community Rugby Brent Anderson says rugby continued to unify and inspire New Zealanders.
“Despite having a variety of sporting options available, it’s pleasing to see rugby continues to hold a special place in the heart of New Zealanders. The game’s increased popularity spans age, gender, country and city.
Kids tell us they love playing rugby because they can have fun with their mates. Rippa Rugby, a non-contact form of the game, is growing as is sevens and the introduction of Quick Rip provides further opportunities for growth."
Anderson adds that in 2014 New Zealand Rugby's goal was to have 21,000 female players by 2020.
"We have surpassed that target already with 21,937 women and girls playing the game this year.
New Zealand Rugby has made a big investment in growing grass roots rugby in recent years and it’s great to see that strategy paying dividends but we don’t take it for granted."