The game is getting serious about addressing the issue of participation churn rates.

Together with the National Rugby League, the Queensland Rugby League have identified that a reduction in the game’s churn rate would provide a strong opportunity to realise organic growth within the game.

In an endorsement of the games recruitment strategies, the long-term growth in Rugby League stands at 2-3% and highlights our recruitment not only counters the almost 30% yearly churn out of the sport; but also attains a small growth percentage year on year. Ultimately though, the objective is to implement a strategy that reduces the current churn rate.

A child’s experience with their club – and in particular their coach – plays a significant role in their continued involvement in sport and long-held anecdotal evidence suggests an over-competitive team environment is detrimental to keeping kids in sport.

To create a basis on which to develop a retention strategy, the QRL undertook the task of consulting the families of 2014 registered club players who did not return to the game in 2015.

A survey was developed targeted at better understanding the reasons for players and their families making the decision not to return to Rugby League from one year to the next. Of the 7700 emails that were delivered inviting families involvement in the survey, 566 surveys were successfully completed.

The clear message delivered in the responses was the environment a coach created in their team was pivotal in participants continuing in the sport.

An overly competitive environment which focussed on winning at all costs resulted in kids leaving the game. Interestingly, a coach’s experience and knowledge, or lack thereof, were not significant contributors to the game’s churn rates.

Armed with this knowledge, the QRL and NRL are adapting the education of the games junior coaches and clubs to place a higher priority on creating an enjoyable, inclusive team environment with a number of initiatives from the surveys recommendations being implemented.

Positive change will be a gradual process but the game is committed to providing an enjoyable experience to families who choose Rugby League for their children.

A full copy of the report can be viewed here: Queensland Retention Study 2014-2015

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