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Record number of people playing rugby globally - report

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A record number of people are playing rugby worldwide as the sport continues to grow and prosper across the globe, according to the World Rugby Year in Review 2018.

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According to World Rugby, the sport’s unprecedented growth continued in 2018 with 9.6 million men, women and children playing the game around the world. This includes 2.7 million women, up 10 percent on the previous year and accounting for more than a quarter of the total global playing population.

Excitingly the total number of registered female players grew by an impressive 28 percent to 581,000 across World Rugby’s member unions. This comes during the first full year of implementation of World Rugby’s ambitious plan, Accelerating the global development of women in rugby 2017-25, which aims to support the growth and development of the women’s game and promote parity,” said the global body in a statement.

“That success was matched off the field by increased engagement levels from female fans – 38 percent increase in video views by women and the growth of the World Rugby and Rugby World Cup female audience on Twitter to more than 30 percent.

“It was also reflected in increased diversity at the highest levels of the game in a year when World Rugby added 17 new female members to its Council and New Zealand was named as first-time hosts of Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021.

Other highlights in 2018 included the second Youth Olympic Games Rugby sevens tournament in Buenos Aires, won by Argentina (men’s) and New Zealand (women’s). Meanwhile, Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco saw 100,000 fans across three days create an incredible atmosphere inside the iconic AT&T Park, with a US broadcast audience of nine million tuning in, many watching rugby for the first time. This helped drive even greater interest in the sport to 800 million worldwide, driven by young people consuming sevens digital content in emerging markets like the USA, China, India and Brazil.

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Player welfare is also checked off in the agency release: “Off the field, player welfare remains World Rugby’s number one priority with the international federation focusing on evidence-based injury prevention at all levels of the sport. Alongside its ongoing focus on research, World Rugby’s training and education programmes remain core to its strategy, with more than 2,700 training courses delivered worldwide in 2018.”

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “2018 was another special year for rugby as we watched the sport continue to prosper and grow both on and off the field. Within a total playing population of 9.6 million it was fantastic to see our Get Into Rugby programme – run in partnership with unions and regions – continue to break participation records with over two million girls and boys worldwide getting involved for the second year in a row amid a growing global interest of 800 million people.”

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