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Survey shows surge in rugby's popularity

12 December 2008

December 12, 2008

Participation in all forms of rugby union is growingly strongly according to new research conducted by Sport England.

The results of the Active People Survey 2 released this week show an increase of 24 per cent in people over the age of 16 taking part in the game over the last two years.

It found that 185,600 people were involved in rugby union for at least 30 minutes a week in 2005/06 and that figure was up to 230,300 people in 2007/08.

In the Ipsos MORI research in the year to October 15, 2008, rugby union also recorded the fifth biggest increase of the 34 sporting activities sampled.

"It's our goal to keep on recruiting and retaining more people so that they can enjoy the game and we're delighted that the Active People Survey 2 underlines the progress we are making," said RFU Community Rugby Director Andrew Scoular.

"We set out quite deliberately to recruit more adults and focus on the 16-24 age group with our Go Play Rugby campaign more than a year ago and our Play On campaign this season is targeted at making sure young adults stay connected with the game.

"The figures reflect all the hard work that our staff and volunteers have put in and the growing profile of the sport boosted by England's successes at the last two Rugby World Cups.

"We've had superb support from partners like O2, the National Sports Foundation and the Chelsea Building Society in running our campaigns, offering alternative forms of the game to young audiences through events like the O2 Scrum on the Beach series last summer.

"Over the next two years our focus is 'People and Places', continuing to improve facilities and playing surfaces and putting the human infrastructure in place to cope with sustained growth."

Overall, the Active People Survey 2 showed that the number of adults in England who regularly play sport has risen by more than half a million over the past two years.

In all 191,000 people were interviewed and the large sample size enabled Sport England to identify how participation varies from place to place, between sports and between different groups in the population.

The survey provides a baseline for sports being funded by Sport England, against which their progress towards individual targets will be measured over the next four years.

Swimming remains the most popular sport, with athletics (including running and jogging), cycling, football, golf and rugby union the fastest-growing.

Click here for a breakdown of individual sports.