NSW Rugby League

The NSWRL is pleased to announce record growth for Rugby League across the state in 2021 as the organisation celebrates its 114th birthday today.

The number of total participants rose more than 5 per cent, male participants recorded their highest growth in six years while female participants broke 20,000 for the first time in history.

It is a significant achievement for the NSWRL, which was formed on 8 August, 1907 with the first competition games being played the following year on 20 April, 1908.

NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden thanked all stakeholders for their ongoing support in what has been another challenging season for the code, with the NSW Government currently suspending community sport across Greater Sydney until 28 August following another COVID-19 outbreak.

“The fact that so many participants signed up to play Rugby League this season is a reflection of its popularity and the important role it can play in helping the community to heal after the challenges we have all faced,” Trodden said.

“It’s particularly pleasing to see an upturn in some of our key Rugby League heartland areas, in both the Sydney metropolitan areas and Regional NSW, and I’m confident this trend will continue with all the hard work our participants, officials and volunteers put in every year.

“The NSWRL offers a number of formats to be inclusive of all participants, including traditional forms of tackle, non-tackle options in Monarch Blues Tag, and Try League for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities.

“I’m also pleased to see our female participants surpass the 20,000 mark for the first time ever as this represents one of the fastest growth areas for Rugby League.

“The NSWRL has had a proud history since it formed in 1907 and that tradition continues today and into the future.”

The participation figures were compiled after registrations cut off at the end of June and have been compared to the 2019 season, as that was not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic which disrupted community sport across Australia last year.

There have been plenty of success stories with the Sydney metropolitan areas recording significant growth in areas including Balmain, St George, Manly and North Sydney, while the results have been just as encouraging across Regional NSW, including Group 3 JRL, Group 9 JRL, Group 10 JRL, Group 18 JRL and Western Riverina.

The number of total participants to date: 107,980 which is a 5.1 per cent increase from 102,718 in 2019; male participants have risen to 85,170 which is a 1.7 per cent increase from 83,803 in 2019 and also the highest growth since 2015; while female participants have climbed to record numbers of 22,810 which is a 20 per cent increase from 18,915 in 2019.  

Crunching the numbers: how NSWRL achieved record growth
 –    Balmain Junior Rugby League – 2053 participants from 1605 in 2019; Carlingford Cougars fielding an open aged team for first time in 15 years;
–    St George Junior Rugby League – 1675 participants from 1255 in 2019 which is their highest male participation in six years;
–    Manly Junior Rugby League – 2461 participants from 2080 in 2019;
–    North Sydney Junior Rugby league – 1670 participants from 1149 in 2019;
–    Parramatta Sunday JRL – 519 participants from 381 in 2019;
–    Penrith and District JRL – 8769 participants from 8517 in 2019;
–    Group 10 JRL – 2556 participants from 2201 in 2019
–    Group 11 JRL – 2814 participants from 2538 in 2019
–    Canberra Juniors – 4266 participants from 3720 in 2019
–    Central Coast Junior Rugby League – 4804 participants from 4214 in 2019;
–    Central Coast Seniors – 1185 participants from 890 in 2019;
–    Newcastle Junior Rugby League – 4339 participants from 4133 in 2019;
–    Maitland and District Junior Rugby League – 2319 participants from 2266 in 2019;
–    East Coast Region (Group 2, Group 3, Hastings League, Northern Rivers, Group 1 and Group 18) recording 10115 participants from 9680 in 2019.  
–    Newcastle and Hunter Rugby League – 1992 participants from 1896 in 2019:
–    Western Riverina – 250 participants from 143 in 2019 with six teams taking part and each town hosting a triple-header throughout the season, operating inaugural women’s tackle comp parallel to the League;
–    Canowindra Junior Rugby League – 137 participants from 90 in 2019 with the community celebrating their centenary this season.