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Australian Sports Commission data shows rugby is now one of the most popular sports in Australian primary schools. After a landmark Olympic year for the sport, Australian Rugby’s primary school program “Game On” now ranks as the 8th most popular sports program in Australian primary schools, up 20 places from last year – the inaugural year of Game On.

In just the second year of Game On, 2016 participation figures are expected to reach 50,000, almost doubling from 2015 levels when 26,469 students participated in the five-week non-contact rugby program. 

Game On, which is implemented through the ASC’s Sporting Schools network of 5,160 primary schools around the country, is a core strategic tool for the ARU to expand the reach of rugby and make rugby more accessible to children throughout Australia. In 2016, more than 60% of the primary schools that have run Game On have been government schools, and more than 40% of participants have been female.

Encouragingly, the growth of rugby in primary schools has led to a 3.5% increase nationwide in junior club rugby participation levels in 2016.

In all Australia states and territories, Development Officers run Game On in schools and encourage students to continue their rugby journey by joining a club to either play VIVA7s, Sevens or XVs rugby. Rugby’s Development Officers were pinpointed as a key factor in the program’s success with 98% of participating schools reporting their satisfaction with the coaching.

General Manager of Community Rugby & Strategy, Andrew Larratt said: “When Game On launched last year, we thought we would reach 50,000 participants by 2020, and to almost reach that number in just the second year of the program is just incredible.”

“Off the back of the debut of Rugby Sevens at the Olympics, we have seen a remarkable thirst for rugby in primary schools. There are thousands of young kids out there who want to play the same game they watched on television when our women’s team won that historic gold medal. We’re delighted that with the ASC’s support, we’ve been able to bring rugby to these primary students.

“We want to make rugby a game for all, and through Game On, Australian Rugby is working to inspire more Australians – children and their parents – to enjoy our great game.

“The success of this program so far is a credit to rugby’s Development Officers in all states who are getting into schools and showing kids the joy that rugby can bring.”

Game On is a rugby program for primary schools that teaches students the basic skills and values of rugby. The five-week program culminates in a carnival where students play VIVA7s (non-contact Sevens). It was launched in 2015. Click here for more information on Game On.