Record numbers of people are playing rugby in the Bay of Plenty according to a statement released by the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union today.

This year has seen a total of 10,829 players registered in the Bay of Plenty making it the fourth biggest provincial union in New Zealand in terms of participation and only 200 players behind Wellington as the third biggest.

Along with the strong result in player participation, Bay of Plenty recorded a 14% growth in total volunteer coaches and a 13% increase in volunteer referees.

Bay of Plenty Rugby Union CEO Mike Rogers said the numbers highlighted how important rugby was in the Bay of Plenty community.

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"The numbers are a result of the fantastic work our clubs and schools are doing in their communities by providing safe and enjoyable environments that are attracting more people to our game.

"Our game is now very much a 12 month of the year sport with new forms of the game such as sevens, rippa rugby and quick rip. Our projections over the next 5 years are that our player participation is going to continue to grow.

Mr Rogers said while it was a positive sign it meant they faced a massive challenge to continue to attract more volunteers and ensure clubs and schools were well supported.

BOP Rugby Participation Summary:
7% Growth in Total players in 2016
- 13% increase in players in 0-12 years age group
- 3% increase in players in 13-20 years age group
- 11% increase in female players
14% Growth in Total volunteer coaches in 2016
13% Growth in Total volunteer referes in 2016
3rd highest number of female participants in New Zealand behind Canterbury and North Harbour
Highest number of total Maori players in New Zealand
Total Player participation has increased by 14% over past 5 years
Volunteer coaches grown by 31% over past 5 years
Volunteer referees grown by 18% over past 5 years