Rugby Australia has released its annual report for 2022. For comparison the 2021 data is here –
Any doubts about the benefit of Sevens within the Rugby environment should be long gone by now, with major rises in Sevens participation in schools (36%) and in clubs (32%) this past year.
The Get into Rugby program continues to grow in popularity amongst five to eight-year-olds, with significant growth in participation of 20% – while the Women’s game continues to present a huge opportunity for Rugby, with club
female participation up by more than 9% across all formats (including a 13% increase in XVs)
Despite some challenges arising from the after-effects of COVID and flooding in significant regions around the country, the community and grass roots level of the game saw increases in participation across the board – with the
largest growth occurring in schools (up 40%).
In the Club environment there was a 1.7% increase on 2021 which was underpinned by growth in Sevens, Get into Rugby and female participants.
Sevens participation grew by 32% with significant increases in both junior boys and girls whilst Get into
Female participation across all club formats grew by more than 9% with the highlight being a 12.6% increase in XVs, an outstanding result.
Across the rest of the club environment, XVs participation remained flat in both Juniors and Seniors when compared with 2021 which was due to a small decline in male participants.
Touch 7s also remained flat with only a very small increase, which was again due to an increase in female participants, both junior and senior. In the Events category, growth exceeded 20% in 2022. With the removal of travel restrictions there were many more opportunities to participate in both XVs and Sevens tournaments.
There was also a substantial increase in the number of casual participants who are recorded in this category. These participants play less than four games throughout the year and are typically senior players who are unable to commit to an entire season for a
variety of reasons.
The school environment saw a whopping 40% growth in 2022 with every single format recording significant increases.
Regular competition players in the XVs format grew by 2.6%, however the number of players participating in tournaments and carnivals increased by 600%.
Regular competition players in the Sevens format grew by 36% whilst participation in tournaments and carnivals grew by over 240%. Rugby’s Sporting Schools program also continued its resurgence after multiple COVID impacted years with a
📢 Rugby Australia reports return to surplus and key participation and commercial gains at today's 2022 Annual General Meeting.
— Rugby Australia (@RugbyAU) April 26, 2023
RA had 265,380 people attend Wallabies Test matches in 2022 – the largest number since the 2013 British Lions Tour – and sold out three of our six matches (twice in Sydney, once in Melbourne). It was an incredible year for both our men and women,
and led us into a successful HSBC Sydney Sevens event earlier this year with 66,000 people attending at the new Allianz Stadium.
2022 WAS A RECORD-BREAKING year for Test Match attendance where Wallabies home crowds reached 265,380 across six matches and achieved three sold out games through both series.
This was Rugby Australia’s highest attendance result achieved since the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour, and an average of 60,500 more attendees than each of the seasons from 2016 to 2019.
The July Series against England kicked off in Perth with a win at a near sell-out crowd of 47,668 at Optus Stadium. The series continued at Suncorp Stadium in front of another huge crowd of 46,536. The conclusion of the series, held at the Sydney Cricket
Ground, was in front of the first sell-out crowd since 2019 of 43,271 fans.
Overall, the July England Series saw a 12% increase in attendance from the 2016 series, and a 70% increase on the
The 2022 eToro Rugby Championship home matches also enjoyed growth with an 11% higher average crowd than any three-Test Rugby Championship season years.
The home Test matches in the series kicked off with an afternoon game at Adelaide Oval and a win for the Wallabies in front of a crowd of 36,366. The following two matches were sold out – first, against the Springboks in Sydney at the new Allianz Stadium
with 38,292 fans, followed by a Thursday night Bledisloe Test at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne with a standing room only crowd of 53,245.
Rugby Australia has also seen their broadcast partnership with the Nine Entertainment Company go from strength-to-strength in 2022, with outstanding coverage and increasing ratings – Thursday night Bledisloe Cup game in Melbourne attracted over a million viewers.
It was also the second year of the agreement with Nine Entertainment Company and Stan Sport and, with a full season of Super Rugby Pacific and Wallabies, saw major increases in ratings across both of those pillars – topping out with the Thursday night Bledisloe Cup clash in Melbourne, which saw over a million viewers tune in.
The Super Rugby Pacific competition’s weekly cumulative average was in excess of 100,000 across Stan Sport and 9 GEM on Saturday nights. Comparable Australian Super Rugby matches (excluding the Fijian Drua who were based in NSW) saw a 9% ncrease in Stan viewership. While the Hospital Cup viewership on Stan saw a slight decrease of 14% in viewers, the Shute Shield saw an impressive 112% increase YoY.
The quality of the coverage is the envy of the Rugby world, and RA has seen steady growth in Stan Sport subscriptions and viewership over 2022, with a viewership increase of 58% for the England Series compared with 2021 averages.
For the six home Test matches (five of which were broadcast on the main Nine channel), RA saw a strong average audience of 891,475 – up 21% from 2021.
Rugby were the first sport to strike a broadcast deal combining free-to-air television with streaming and subscription services within the one media house, and NEC has truly led the way in innovating in this space with Rugby.Viewership of the July Series and The eToro Rugby Championship showed strong growth with an increase of 58% alone for the England Series on Stan, compared to 2021 averages. The England Series enjoyed an average audience of over 1m
viewers across the three matches, (note that Stan do not publicly release standalone broadcast figures).
Five of the six home Test matches for the Wallabies aired on Channel Nine’s main network, with only the match at Allianz featuring on 9 Gem, resulting in a strong average audience of 891,475¹ across the six tests. This compares to 736,019 in 2021, an
increase of 21%
Rugby Australia’s social channels delivered remarkable growth in 2022, with an additional 330,000 followers gained throughout the year – a 32% increase – and engagement across all Rugby Australia social channels up
by a massive 264%.
Australia’s key social channels have grown by over 330,000 followers in 2022, which represents a 32% increase from 2021. Nearly one third of the growth can be attributed to TikTok, which has enjoyed significant following and engagement with new, bespoke
content creation strategies based on targeted areas of interest.
In a Rugby World Cup year for both teams, the Wallaroos platform following has also grown by more than double to 60,000 members, as have the Aussie Sevens, from 52,000 followers to over 160,000 – a 208% increase.
Video views have also increased significantly across our digital channels at 48% from 122 million views in 2021 to nearly 200 million in 2022.
Due to an increased effort in content management, social engagement across all Rugby Australia content has grown by over 264% in 2022.
IN 2022, RUGBY AUSTRALIA recorded a surplus of $8.2m. This compares with deficits of $4.5m in 2021 and $27.1m in 2020. This improved financial performance was driven by a $30.6m (or 31%) increase in revenue year on year on the back of a strong England
inbound series and successful Rugby Championship matches against South Africa in Adelaide and Sydney, and New Zealand in Melbourne.
Compared to 2021 match day revenue was up $17.4m (or 85%) and sponsorship was up $7.0m (or 30%).
Whilst revenue increased 31%, the increase in operating expenditure was managed at 18% and included increased payments of $3.8m to Super Rugby Clubs and an increase of $6.2m in player payments and team costs.
RUGBY AUSTRALIA’S COMMERCIAL program had one of its best years on record in 2021 and the positive trend continued into 2022 with a further revenue increase of 22%.
— sportsindustry (@footyindustryAU) April 26, 2023