RFL steps up commitment to deliver increased participation

Date published: Thursday, June 23, 2011

The RFL has reaffirmed its confidence in the sport’s strategy to increase participation and playing opportunities for all Rugby League players following the news that it is to receive reduced funding from Sport England.

Despite recording a sizeable increase in the number of registered players, Rugby League has become the latest sport to have its funding cut.

For the period 2011 to 2013, Sport England’s investment in Rugby League will be reduced by a total of £956,188. This figure represents a 3.35 per cent cut in the £29.4m funding agreed with Sport England over the four-year term from 2009.

RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood believes the funding change, allied to a revision by Sport England in the sport’s Active People target, will not adversely affect Rugby League’s growth and expansion.

“Whilst any reduction in funding is disappointing, Sport England recognises the high quality of the governance and management of the RFL and the difficulties the sport has faced in the last two years,” said Wood.

“In the last two years we have seen a massive increase in the numbers of people registered to play Rugby League and the challenge now is to get those people playing more often and for longer periods of the year.

“When we do that the benefits to Rugby League will be significant, as well as helping both the RFL and Sport England to achieve the Active People targets.

“Sport England acknowledges that the ongoing change in competition structure across the whole game from a winter to a summer-based competition will help us remove some of the obstacles that have deterred people from playing Rugby League.

“I am confident that, going forward, not only can we continue to grow the number of registered players, we can also ensure they play on a more regular, longer and more frequent basis.”

Over the next two years, the RFL’s plan to increase the number of participants and frequency of participation will centre on a ‘product-orientated model’ which responds to the needs of customers. This involves the realignment of the community game to a summer-based competition, the provision of improved facilities and the promotion of awareness of all forms of the sport, including 13-a-side, touch and tag.

David Gent, the RFL’s Director of Participation and Strategic Partnerships, has no doubts the sport can achieve its targets and ambitions over the next two years and beyond.

“We are going through a challenging and very exciting process of radical change which is designed to ensure we deliver sustained growth in all forms of the sport,” said Gent.

“Our commitment to delivering increased participation levels remains undiminished, as does Sport England’s support for what we are trying to achieve. Sport England recognise that our customer-led approach is bold.”


The total number of adults registered to play in Rugby League in England increased by 30,431 last year whilst the number of secondary school children increased by 25,273.

2010 saw an increase of 5,372 adult female participants and an increase of 4,601 adult males in club competitions. Wheelchair tag Rugby League saw over 100 new participants registered.

The number of active Match Officials increased by 1,014 in 2010 and 7,482 new volunteers were recruited to the sport.