The growing appeal of Rugby League has been highlighted by the latest Active People figures published by Sport England, which show a healthy increase in the number of people playing the sport.
Between October 2012 and October 2013, the number of people who play Rugby League at least once a week rose from 48,600 to 53,500.
Rugby League is the only team sport to register an increase across the 12-month period and RFL Director of Participation and Strategic Partnerships David Gent said:
“It’s great to see that, on the back of a fantastic Rugby League World Cup 2013 and the Festivals of World Cups, the popularity of the sport is continuing to grow.
“Not only did we meet the targets set by Sport England, we exceeded them and I am confident that that trend will continue as we build on the legacy of RLWC2013 and the Festivals of World Cups.
“A number of factors conspired against us in the 12-month period, not least some really bad weather earlier this year, but in spite of all that we have been able to keep numbers growing.
“I would like to thank the clubs, league and organisations who have worked so hard by committing to playing in a summer season: we are continuing to see the fruits of all their efforts.
“These figures can only inspire the Government’s confidence that Rugby League is a sport which is thriving.”
The RFL expects the number of participants to increase still further over the next 12 months, aided by a number of initiatives linked to RLWC2013, including Play Touch Rugby League.
Between 2012 and 2013, the number of registered community club participants increased by 4,903 whilst fixture completion rates across Tiers 3 and 4 competitions for the March to October season were over 80 per cent.