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RugbyWA is celebrating the registration of its 8,000th player for the 2012 season – a record for the state.
Grassroots rugby has seen a significant rise this year, increasing by 12 per cent from the 2011 total of 7,149 players.
Within this total, the number of players contesting Pindan Premier Grade and senior grades has risen from 2,930 (2011) to 3,399 while Bankwest Junior Rugby participation has experienced a similar increase, up from 3,723 in 2011 to 4,183.
Women’s rugby has also witnessed a substantial increase, up 28 per cent from 147 to 204.
Palmyra President Kim Short became the 8,000th registered player when he took to their field in his side’s Fourth Grade Blue match against Perth Bayswater at Pat O’Hara Reserve, Morley on Saturday. It was 52-year-old Short’s first match for the Palmyra club in which he scored an intercept try in a memorable debut. Coincidentally, his three sons all played against Perth Bayswater on Saturday with each one scoring a try in his respective match – Leighton crossed for two tries in the Under 15’s semi-final, Mitchell also recorded a double in the Under 18’s, while eldest son Nicholas scored in his Second Grade match.
Andrew Hill, RugbyWA’s Manager Community Rugby, said the 8,000 mark is a significant milestone for the code in Western Australia.
“This is a great achievement for rugby in the state and the result of a lot of hard work from people in the sport,” he said.
“While the population of Western Australia is growing at a significant rate, the fact that so many people are being attracted to rugby is a positive for the current state of the game and could provide significant long-term benefits for the code.
“The clubs have been very active and done a fantastic job in regard to their recruitment across all ages while our development officers have been very busy in introducing many junior players to rugby and assisting to grow the game.
“These numbers are also reflective of the behind-the-scenes work that has been contributed within the senior union and WAJRU (West Australian Junior Rugby Union).
“Our next challenge is retaining existing players while continuing to grow the game. We want to see a continued increase in junior numbers, we’ve already seen a substantial rise in the standard of our senior competitions, and we’ve been very encouraged by the number of female participants and the enthusiasm towards rugby sevens.
“For our elite players, we have a clear development pathway into the Bankwest Academy and with the Emirates Western Force having a renewed focus on recruiting up-and-coming players, should we continue to experience this growth, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t see more home-grown products playing Super Rugby in the years to come.”