Six million by 2016 - IRB plans for explosive growth

Getty Images and James Mortimer     08 Dec 2012     Getty Images

Get Into Rugby has been developed with the aim of maximising the enormous appetite in new and emerging Rugby nations, stimulated by Rugby Sevens' inclusion in the Olympic Games programme.

Aside from the ambitious target of reaching over six million players across Member Unions, the IRB Get Into Rugby programme also aims to deliver new coaches and referees over the same period by encouraging participants of all ages and abilities to "Try, Play and Stay" in Rugby in a safe and fun environment through an exciting new strategy.

Brazil, China and Mexico will be among the initial locations for the launch of the IRB's new global initiative. In China, for example, Get Into Rugby was launched at the recent IRB supported Zengcheng International Women's Sevens tournament and will be initiated in 100 schools in Nanjing, where the 2014 Youth Olympic Games will be hosted, as well as Guangzhou.

The IRB will provide essential kit, training and education support for Unions who participate in the programme and detailed online resources for training teachers, coaches and players.

Rugby is experiencing unprecedented growth and interest around the world. Boosted by the ongoing commercial success of Rugby World Cup, the IRB's unprecedented investment strategy and Olympic Games inclusion, global participation has increased by 18 per cent since 2007 and there are now more than 5.5 million men, women and children playing Rugby.

The programme is led by the national technical director in Member Unions and IRB regional staff and will start in Brazil, Belgium, Czech Republic, China, Colombia, Germany, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Zimbabwe.

Get Into Rugby Strategy

The aim of the programme is to introduce boys and girls to "Try, Play and Stay" in Rugby. Each Union will produce a plan on how they will grow the Game and how they will train coaches and teachers and link the programme to their own player development programme.

The key strategies are:

1: Encouraging children to TRY Rugby in clubs, schools and local communities via tag or flag Rugby in order to learn and experience the values, passion, principles and skills of Rugby. This will be supported by IRB trained coaches, teachers and leaders.

2: PLAY the Game in a safe, fun environment – in leagues, festival events and programmes, after an initial training period.

3: The focus of the STAY stage will be to support players to progress and stay in Rugby as a player, coach, referee, administrator, volunteer or fan in joining teams, clubs, communities and national Unions.

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "We want to ensure that men, women and children in every nation have as much opportunity as possible to get involved in Rugby, and Get Into Rugby will help do exactly that. This exciting mass participation programme is an important element of support towards our strategic aim of achieving participation levels in excess of six million worldwide."

"IRB Get Into Rugby is not just the mechanism to introduce people to Rugby and its values. We want players, coaches, match officials and volunteers to stay as active members of the Rugby family and therefore a key element is working with the Unions and Regional Associations to ensure that the appropriate structures are in place to support the growth."

Morgan Buckley, IRB General Manager for Development, said the project is about growing the Game worldwide.

"This programme is an exciting new development which will have a big impact on helping Unions grow the Game in their country. Get Into Rugby follows best practice models. The support and interest from the initial Member Unions starting the programme is very positive and we will look to expand this globally over the next two years."

"In 2013 we are looking to commence the programme in India, Scandinavia, North America and 10 other countries who are planning to roll it out. We have had great support from the IRB rgional asociations and they have led the way in promoting the programme and working with us to grow the Game."

Get Into Rugby is supported by Gilbert who have supplied essential starter kit, including balls, tag belts and bags for Unions participating in the programme.

To find out more about the New Zealand Rugby Union's initiatives, click here.