Sport England highlights an upsurge in rugby league unmatched by other sports

St Helens Star: Rugby league is a real community sport as this Haresfinch action shot shows. Rugby league is a real community sport as this Haresfinch action shot shows.

MORE and more people are playing rugby league – and its growth rate is unmatched by any other game.

Sport England has highlighted the growing appeal of rugby league in its latest Active People figures which show a healthy increase in the number of people playing the sport.

Between October 2012 and October 2013, those who play the game at least once a week rose from 48,600 to 53,500.

Rugby league is the only team sport to register an increase across the 12-month period, RFL Director of Participation and Strategic Partnerships David Gent said: “It’s great to see that, on the back of a fantastic Rugby League World Cup 2013 and the Festivals of World Cups , the popularity of the sport is continuing to grow.

“Not only did we meet the targets set by Sport England, we exceeded them and I am confident that that trend will continue as we build on the legacy of RLWC2013 and the Festivals of World Cups.

“A number of factors conspired against us in the 12-month period, not least some really bad weather earlier this year, but in spite of all that we have been able to keep numbers growing.

“I would like to thank the clubs, league and organisations who have worked so hard by committing to playing in a summer season: we are continuing to see the fruits of all their efforts.

“These figures can only inspire the Government’s confidence that Rugby League is a sport which is thriving.”

The RFL expects the number of participants to increase still further over the next 12 months, a surge linked to RLWC2013 and Play Touch Rugby League.

Between 2012 and 2013, the number of registered community club participants increased by 4,903.

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