National campaign launched
The head coaches of England and Scotland have today launched a major national recruitment campaign on behalf of the RFL to increase participation levels in Rugby League before, during and after the World Cup which kicks off on 25 October.
Launched by England’s Tony Smith, women’s coach Brenda Dobek and Scotland’s Steve McCormack at St Peters RC High School, Manchester, The Co-operative Try It campaign aims to attract and recruit new people to the sport in four areas – playing, coaching, volunteering and refereeing.
Sponsored by RFL Official Partner, The Co-operative, the campaign is centred around an interactive website www.tryit.co.uk and features video interviews with some of the world’s best players, coaches and referees on why they got involved in the sport. The website aims to provide those interested in getting involved in Rugby League with details of local clubs, relevant contacts, as well giving visitors the chance to win a number of money can’t buy prizes.
England coach Tony Smith said: “As with any major sporting event, we expect the Rugby League World Cup to increase the national profile of the sport and increase interest levels. It’s important that whilst the profile is high that we convert interest into participation.
“Rugby League is a really easy sport to get involved in on various levels and provides many social and health benefits. Hopefully a combination of a successful World Cup by the home nations, combined with this campaign will push participation levels to a new high.”
Brenda Dobek who will coach the England women’s team at the World Cup added: “This campaign isn’t just directed at men, it’s targeted at women as well. Womens and girls Rugby League is one of the fastest growing areas of the sport and last year participation levels increased by 81 per cent.
“The Co-operative Try It campaign will attract and retain people to the sport of Rugby League which is an exciting and exhilarating sport at all levels no matter what your involvement.”
According to statistics, Rugby League is one of the fastest growing sports in the UK with more people then ever now involved. Participation grew by 24 per cent last year to more than 285,000 and the sport is now played in every region in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
Scotland coach Steve McCormack said: “Rugby League is no longer confined to the M62 corridor as it is now played all over the UK with new teams springing up all the time.
“As with the recent Olympics which resulted in many people getting in to rowing and cycling the aim of The Co-operative Try It campaign is to convert interested armchair viewers into players, coaches, referees or volunteers.”
One of the fastest growing development areas for Rugby League is currently London where more than 27,000 school children played the sport during the last academic year. As well as an active school development programme more than 70 junior and 20 senior teams are now playing Rugby League on a weekly basis.
The development programme is clearly paying dividend as two London born Harlequins RL players are currently in Tony Smith’s England World Cup train-on squad and 18 players from London and the South East have recently been named in national squads and camps from under 14’s upwards.
Liz Matkin, The Co-operative’s sponsorship manager, said: “Rugby League is a national sport that just like The Co-operative has its roots at the heart of the community.
“It is an easy sport to get involved in and participation in Rugby League at any level and at what ever age brings huge health and social benefits which is good for everyone.”
The thirteenth Rugby League World Cup kicks off in Townsville Australia on Saturday 25 October when England meet Papua New Guinea. The English are drawn in a difficult group of four including hosts Australia as well as New Zealand. Three will qualify for the semi-finals.
Scotland kick off their World Cup campaign a day later on Sunday 26 October when they face France in Canberra, and are drawn in a pool which also includes Fiji.
For more information about The Co-operative Try It campaign, please visit www.tryit.co.uk
Facts about the growth of Rugby League
• More than 285,000 people are now involved in Rugby League across the UK – a 24 per cent growth in the last year.
• Registered club players has broken 40,000 for the first time ever
• Over 3,400 teams play the sport all across the country including 1,520 school teams, 220 of which are girls teams
• Womens and girls Rugby League saw an 81 per cent increase in participation last year and this October the England’s women’s team will be playing in the World Cup
• There are more than 10,000 active volunteers involved in the sport
• In partnerships with clubs, local authorities and County Sports partnerships there are now 224 development staff working in England, Wales and Scotland
• The sport boasts more than 600 fully qualified match officials and saw a 30 per cent increase last year