The Queensland Rugby League today confirmed an annual increase in club registration numbers, highlighted by excellent growth in the women’s game and a rise in one of the code’s key male participation segments.
The number of registered male and female players reached 60, 857 this year, a slight gain on the 2016 numbers (see numbers in breakdown below).
“We’re pleased to be holding our own in a challenging period for many traditional team sports,” QRL Managing Director Robert Moore said.
“In partnership with the NRL, we are in the process of building strategies through the creation of a Player Development Framework in a bid to further expand our participation base in Queensland.”
Moore said 4646 female players were registered with Queensland clubs this year, an increase of 21%.
“We’re really excited about the pathways and opportunities on offer for our female participants,” Moore said.
“To now have Open Women’s competitions in the South East, Mackay, Bundaberg, Gladstone / Rockhampton and the Central Highlands is a feather in the cap for the game.
“Earlier this year, we held our first Female Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) camp and only recently our best Under 14 and 16 girls were in action at the State Junior Championships.
“While these are excellent initiatives, we are the first to acknowledge that there is still a great deal of work to be done in this participation sector and it’s important we take our time to get it right.”
Moore said there had been an increase in the key male participation segment of Under 10s to 12s, with numbers up 2.65% (12, 180 in the 2016 season to 12, 502 this year).
However, male numbers from the Under 13 to 18s had decreased by 4.1% (from 16, 877 to 16, 180 this year.)
“We are no different to some other sports which record a decline in this age group,” Moore said.
“We’re aware of the challenges we face and it’s important that we continue to look at strategies to improve our retention rate in this demographic as well as senior men.”
Overall retention numbers throughout Queensland did improve, however, with 40, 616 players continuing in the game (1.7 per cent increase).
Recruitment numbers were once again strong with the game attracting 12, 261 new players.
“Many of the new players are in the younger age groups and this is an indication that the safe aspects of our game are not lost on parents,” Moore said.
“We have a highly-modified game in the younger age groups which is bound by the Safeplay Code and other regulations.”
He said the QRL had received an encouraging response following the changes made at junior levels this year.
“After extensive research and consultation, new junior rugby league models were introduced this year to provide the foundations for a more fun, friendly and free-flowing game,” Moore said.
“We have received some very positive feedback from these changes, particularly from those involved in the younger age groups.”
Moore said the contribution of volunteers was pivotal to this year’s strong participation numbers.
“Our data shows we now have more registered volunteers than ever before and we can’t thank our coaches, sports trainers, referees and general volunteers enough for their ongoing support,” he said.