The 2017 Immortals Conference Championship takes place at Campbelltown Sports Stadium. Image: Terry Liberopoulos.

NSW Rugby League participation is on the rise, with female involvement one of the major growth areas, recording a 63 per cent year-on-year increase.

While final statistics will be determined following the completion of the NSWRL Recreational Rugby League programs, female participation is at an all-time high, increasing across all age groups. Currently 2,849 females participate in Rugby League compared to 1,744 last year.

In another boost for NSWRL, retention across all age groups has improved, while districts including Eastern Suburbs and North Sydney experienced a year-on-year increase in male participation.

Junior League figures alike increased in the shire following Cronulla’s maiden premiership success last year, with the Cronulla district amassing a 12 per cent year-on-year growth across male and female participation.

While figures reflect a positive outcome, NSWRL General Manager of Football Barrie-Jon Mather said more work is required to continue the growth of Rugby League in the state.  

“NSWRL is pleased the participation decline in recent years has been reversed in 2017. This would not have been possible without the effort and commitment of thousands of volunteers within the NSWRL Junior Leagues and their Junior League administrators,” Mather said.

“In saying that, we acknowledge that more work needs to be done to continue that growth and to work hard with our Junior Leagues to find solutions to their issues."

The NSWRL has implemented programs in recent years to improve Junior League figures, including the NSWRL Respect Campaign, Recreational Rugby League programs and most recently employed seven additional staff members in its football department to assist in the growth and development of Junior Rugby League.

“Initiatives such as the Recreational Rugby League programs and the Respect campaign have been developed in order to ensure Rugby League is fun, safe and family-friendly. We look forward to continued growth in 2018," Mather said.

Key NSWRL participation statistics

  • Total females playing Rugby League increased by 63 per cent year-on-year.
  • Female senior (19+) participation has doubled year-on-year.
  • The Cronulla district recorded a 12 per cent year-on-year growth across male and female participation.
  • Male participation in the Eastern Suburbs and North Sydney has grown.
  • Retention across male and female age groups has increased.