Numbers up in all Taranaki rugby grades

GLENN MCLEAN
Last updated 05:00 17/05/2014

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The number of registered rugby players in the province looks set to rise for a second year.

After the muster dropped off in 2011 by more than 400, the Taranaki Rugby Football Union reported this week that participation is up across all grades.

In the junior ranks, the number of registered teams across the province has increased from 137 to 142. There are an extra 10 teams in secondary schools rugby, although most of those are in the girls' grade, which has been introduced in a sevens format.

There are also an extra two sides in the senior grades after the union spilt the former senior third grade and introduced another division.

"I think having an extra RDO [rugby development officer] has really helped because we have put a real focus on getting out to all the primary schools, which has helped our junior numbers," TRFU operations assistant Ashley Livingstone said.

The expected lift in player numbers follows a promising increase last season when the union had an extra 391 players compared to 2011.

Livingstone said the biggest increase came in the six and seven-year-olds grades, and most clubs reported many new players.

Although some clubs are reporting difficulties with the New Zealand Rugby Union's new rule requiring players to be on the field for at least half a game in second XV grade and below, the measure might also be having a positive influence in retaining players who previously had not seen a lot of game time.

Meanwhile, the TRFU now has its own smartphone app.

The TRFU team tracker app is now available to download for free from both the Android and Apple app stores.

Fans can pick their favourite premiership team to follow or track lower-grade teams down to under-6.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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