Italy has lost over 400 its adult female player registrations in the last two years, comparing data from before the COVID pandemic with the latest published information.
A first indication of the effect of COVID on player numbers has reached us today from Italy where their latest player data shows a 20% drop in the number of senior player registrations (age 20+) plus a further 31% drop in 18 to 19-year-olds.
In total there are now 479 fewer adult players in the country, reducing the number of active female players from 2,163 to 1,684, a fall of 22.1%.
In addition, the number of teenage registrations has fallen even more - by 31%.
More “minis” have registered – the success and increased profile of the women’s rugby in Italy attracting over 2600 more U9 girls to the game – but unless the women and teenagers return it will be at least a decade before these girls can fill the gaps.
The data – which comes from the latest report on the league and mini-rugby activity from FIR - shows that, overall, the game in Italy lost 3,647 athletes between 6th December 2019 and 6th December 2021, a fall of 6.41%.
Unsurprisingly the number of active teams has also been affected. The game as a whole has seen the number of active teams fall from 1431 to 1053 (a 26% fall).
In women’s rugby:
- Serie A teams have fallen from 26 to 22 (-15%)
- Women's Italian Cup (sevens): from 79 to 63 (-20%)
- Under 18/19 teams: from 41 to 29 (-29%)
- Under 16/17 teams: from 78 to 53 (-32%)
- Under 14/15 teams: from 113 to 70 (-38%)
To cope with this the FIR is encouraging the creation of “tutor clubs” in the youth game, pulling together players from clubs who cannot field a team of their own.
Most unions do not publish detailed player registration data so at the moment it is impossible to gauge how much Italy’s experience is matched elsewhere.