Rugby continues to grow in Australia, with over 300 000 participants recorded this year - the most in their history.
That makes 2012 the fourth consecutive year of growth in the game, with junior numbers increasing for the sixth consecutive year to reach a grand total of 323 115 players in Australia.
That total reflects an increase of 61,678 (23%) on 2011 numbers, 55% on 2010 playing numbers and 68% growth from 2009.
The strength of the game in the Super Rugby regions of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia and the ACT continued to grow with junior and senior numbers recording growth across the five regions.
Acting Australian Rugby Union (ARU) CEO Matt Carroll said the figures highlight continued growth in one of the most highly contested sporting marketplaces in the world.
"These figures are exciting and show that rugby is continuing to grow its playing numbers across the country, winning the hearts and minds of the Australian sporting public," Carroll said.
"This is now the fourth year that the game has experienced growth, which reinforces that the game is heading in the right direction as we enter one of the most highly anticipated years in Australian Rugby.
"The British and Irish Lions tour is the biggest rugby event to be held on Australian soil since the 2003 Rugby World Cup and ARU is working hard to ensure we capitalise on the excitement that is generated from the tour," he said.
After entering its first official four year Olympic cycle, Sevens also enjoyed a huge boost to playing numbers in 2012.
A total of 39,003 people were engaged with Sevens in Australia this year, with the game proving exceptionally popular in Queensland, NSW, South Australia, the ACT, Victoria and Western Australia.
Carroll said the inclusion of Sevens in the Olympic program was attracting more people to the game.
"The growth experienced by Sevens in 2012 is very exciting for the future of the game in Australia at the grassroots and elite levels.
"While this is just the second year we have collected data on the number of players participating in Sevens it is certainly pleasing to see such a large amount of growth in the game over the past 12 months.
"Increasing our national participation numbers in Sevens by more than 20,000 players reinforces that it is one of the fastest growing sports in Australia," he said.
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