NZR attacking Auckland rugby issues

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Lynn McConnell     26 May 2016     Getty Images

Growth in the game has stagnated in the largest market in the country. With the increasing population that has rugby officials concerned and in 2016 they have added another $1million to their funding to address issues.

Simon Devoy, the NZR's Wider Auckland Strategy Manager told a media seminar on Tuesday that as part of its effort to lift the game in the country's largest city a policy aimed at 'growing, adapting and connecting' has been undertaken.

There were 40,000 registered players in Auckland, 5000 of them women, he said. The next biggest market is Canterbury which has 15,000 registered players. NZR had aimed for a five percent growth target last year but had not achieved that goal.

Auckland 26 percent of New Zealand's population and the city was the second most diverse city in the world.

Devoy said 45 sports were available in Auckland's secondary schools but 60 percent of the pupils did not play any of those sports.

NZR has combined with the local unions, Auckland, North Harbour, Counties Manukau and the Blues to work on the issues.

School age participation is one main area of their focus and new New Zealanders are being targeted with schemes to increase their participation.

This would involve adapting different versions of rugby to connect with teenagers, women and the Asian migrant community.

Part of the plan also involved growing the number of coaches and giving them backing while it was also vital to have healthy clubs to deliver the goals.

Devoy said there were 23 projects underway across the region. These include introducing an under 69kg competition which had been a success across each of the unions.

A 10-a-side tournament involving the four tertiary education institutions in the region had been introduced.

Enhanced pre-season competitions at Under-21 and secondary school 1st XV level had also been created.

As an appreciation of those involved in secondary school coaching an event was being staged at Saturday's Blues v Crusaders game at Eden Park.