The Australian Rugby League Commission announced its 200,000th NRL club member for 2012 on Thursday.
Players at the Newcastle Knights saw the human face of a game-wide membership program that has injected $36 million into rugby league over the past five years as they congratulated the lucky 200,000th member, Jesmond childcare worker Candice Windle at training.
In a record-breaking start to the 2012 season, the ARLC and NRL clubs have combined to implement a host of membership programs and benefits that have resulted in:
- The NRL club membership base doubling in the past four years.
- Membership growing 15 per cent in the past 12 months, increasing from 174,709 to 200,677 this year.
- A record 10 clubs having over 10,000 members.
- The Broncos and Rabbitohs leading the way with over 20,000 members each.
- The Knights, Panthers and Sea Eagles recording the biggest membership growth for 2012.
- The Warriors doubling their memberships this year, with over 90 per cent of their members renewing from 2011.
ARL Commission CEO, David Gallop, congratulated the clubs for their efforts in building membership programs that reward the game's most loyal fans.
"Members are an important part of the game's future," Gallop said.
"For six consecutive years, the game has experienced membership growth and I pay tribute to the clubs for their membership programs and to our fans who have taken the opportunity to be part of the game."
Candice Windle became a Knights' Gold Reserved ticketholder this season with her brother Corey and two friends.
"It was really surprising to receive the phone call that we were the 200,000th NRL member but very exciting at the same time," said Candice.
"We have supported the Knights since we were little and are really looking forward to Sunday's game against the Eels."