The NRL has announced an overall increase in national registered participants for 2017 from 168,600 to over 170,900 Rugby League players across Australia.
Other key figures include:
o An increase in registered club participants aged 12 years and under from 76,500 to over 77,600.
o An increase in female club participation from 14, 200 to over 18,900
o An increase in new players to the game from 34,700 to over 35,900
NRL General Manager National Participation & Development, Luke Ellis said the overall increase in registered participants nationally was a pleasing result in a competitive sporting environment.
"Thousands of people, including our volunteers, coaches, referees, State Leagues, NRL Clubs and game development officers have done a great job in ensuring that collectively over the last year, we have increased the number of registered participants enjoying their Rugby League throughout Australia," Mr Ellis said.
"Without our volunteers in particular, we don't have community participation and we don't have a future rising through the ranks, so it's important for all of us to continue to support the delivery of an experience that is fun, safe and engaging.
"While our overall results are positive, it's important that we acknowledge the challenges that our game is facing in maintaining and increasing male registered club participation levels, particularly across the teenage years.
"We will continue to work in partnership with our State Leagues and Clubs to develop solutions to support and grow our participation numbers across all forms of the game."
The NRL, together with State Leagues and NRL Clubs, have joint-committees in place that are charged with improving all aspects of Junior Rugby League, with a particular focus on:
o Ensuring that programs are in place to encourage new participants to Rugby League are effective in encouraging transfer into Junior League registrations;
o Reviewing the participation framework with an emphasis on keeping teenage players in the game, and;
o Planning effectively for a national elite pathways strategy
Overall, there are more than 770,000 participants involved in a form of Rugby League (touch, tag or tackle) throughout clubs and schools across Australia.