19 Mar 2012

World Cup credited for boost to grassroots rugby

10:00 am on 19 March 2012

The 2011 Rugby World Cup is being credited for a 30% increase in numbers signing up to play club and school rugby in a number of New Zealand provinces.

The change is positive for provincial unions struggling under a mountain of debt and dwindling crowds at matches.

Rugby struggles to draw the big crowds at club level, with player numbers remaining low for at least the past 10 years, relative to other codes.

The New Zealand Rugby Union is funding a roadshow in March to coincide with the registration period for clubs.

All Blacks will visit towns and cities so children can see their World Cup heroes and be inspired to give the sport a go.

Early indications are that the New Zealand-hosted tournament might just be driving interest, with some clubs in Counties-Manukau reporting up to a 30% increase on last year's numbers.

The Rugby Union says clubs are working hard to sign up enough coaches and referees to meet increased demand.