Increase in adult males playing

Otago rugby has reported an increase in players from last year and it is driven by more adult males playing the game.

The union has cracked the 8000-player mark, a high which had not previously been met as player numbers steadily increased over the past few years.

There were 8060 players registered players in Otago last season, an increase from 7903 the previous year.

The increase in junior and teenage players has remained relatively stable.

Otago Rugby Football Union general manager Richard Kinley said although the union had not drilled down too far into the figures anecdotally, there were more adults playing the game as grades and rules became more flexible.

An example of that was the colts grade in Dunedin in which there had been a change concerning eligibility rules which enabled more people to play the game.

There was a real drive by the national union to encourage people to play the game and make competitions and rules more lenient so they could get out and play.

Teams were also running larger squads.

Two teams in the Otago Country area had withdrawn from the competition but many of the remaining players in those teams has simply gone and played for another club. Central Otago has strong growth in the junior numbers and a strong group of volunteers.

Teenage numbers were always hard to maintain as many players aged 13 to 20 dropped out of the game, but hard work from the Otago Secondary Schools Rugby Council had kept the number of players relatively steady with teams drawn together so there were few big scores.

There had been a jump of about 50 more female players while coach numbers had also risen slightly.

A very small drop in the number of referees had occurred.

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