SARL CC v NSW Country
SARL CC v NSW Country

The NSWRL is pleased to announce it has broken the record for Rugby League participation across the state in 2023 ahead of a huge weekend for the organisation which will include Country v City representatives matches, Magic Round and #RESPECT Round.

The overall participation number for this season stands at 107,917, which has eclipsed the previous record season of 2021 when 107,434 participants registered to play the game.

The current figure is also an increase of more than 10 per cent from last year’s number of 106,030 on a year-to-date (YTD) basis.

Just as impressive are registrations for the men’s game, with 83,047 participants, an increase of more than eight per cent (YTD). The women’s game continues to grow at a phenomenal rate after smashing the 24,000 barrier for the first time with 24,870 female participants, an increase of more than 18 per cent (YTD).

The participation figures are only expected to improve with the registration date not cutting off until 30 June.

“The fact we have already set a new benchmark for participation figures in NSW two months before registrations close reflects the popularity of the game for all,” NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden said.

“There has been significant growth in both metropolitan Sydney and regional NSW, and the constant growth in the women’s game continues to impress.

“I am grateful for all the hard work that goes in to making this happen from all our stakeholders – players, coaches, officials and volunteers.

“Increasing participation is also paramount for our two State of Origin coaches, Westpac NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler and Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues coach Kylie Hilder, after they went on a huge recruitment drive in February, travelling more than 5200 kilometres and hosting 11 free football clinics around the state.

“There are so many formats of the game which makes it easier to be involved with including tackle, Blues Tag, Wheelchair Rugby League, Physical Disability Rugby League and Try League for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities.

“Rugby League truly is a sport where you learn important values and make lifelong friends and I encourage everyone to get involved as it is something they will not regret.”

This weekend is shaping as another huge occasion for the NSWRL, with the Harvey Norman Country Women’s Open Age team already kicking off the annual representative fixtures with an 18-12 win over City at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium last night.

The Harvey Norman Women’s Open Age game was the first of eight Country-City matches that will be played over three days across two venues.

Tomorrow, the CABE Under 16s, Under 18s, and Men’s Open Age will play at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, and the NSW Wheelchair Rugby League at Queanbeyan PCYC; while Physical Disability Rugby League, and the Harvey Norman Under 17s Women’s, and Under 19s Women’s will play at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Sunday 7 May.

It will also be a huge round of action for The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup with the six games for Round 10 to be played in a Magic Round format across two venues; North Sydney Oval and HE Laybutt Stadium.

The first three games at North Sydney Oval tomorrow will feature old foes South Sydney Rabbitohs against the Sydney Roosters, the top-of-the-table Warriors against the third-placed and hosts North Sydney Bears, and Parramatta Eels against Western Suburbs Magpies.

The final three matches at HE Laybutt on Sunday 7 May will feature the fourth-placed Newtown Jets against premiers Penrith Panthers, the second-placed Bulldogs against the Canberra Raiders, while hosts Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles will finish the day against St George Illawarra Dragons.

The competition has been fierce in The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup this season with only two points separating the top six teams.

The NSWRL’s #RESPECT campaign will also be a highlight this weekend with the focus on developing and implementing positive cultures within community Rugby League clubs including the theme: “Our club, our people, our culture”.

All clubs are being encouraged to identify their club culture and how their players and volunteers display that culture in their communities and on game day.

All clubs, teams and match officials will also be asked to participate in game day protocols where team captains and match officials meet in the middle of the field before each game to shake hands.

The #RESPECT campaign started in 2016 with a vision to eliminate poor behaviour and promote a positive environment for all players, coaches, officials, volunteers and families.

You can show your support for #RESPECT Round this weekend by using the hashtags #NSWRL, #RESPECT, #OURCLUBOURPEOPLEOURCULTURE, #LETTHEMPLAY and #COMMUNITYRUGBYLEAGUE.