Rugby Statistics UK: How Popular is Rugby in the UK in 2021?

Rugby Statistics UK 2021


Rugby is one of the UKs favourite sports, evolving from football in the 19th century, Rugby still remains a popular sport in the country, with large scale viewership and participation in the sport. This article explores the levels of popularity today alongside the difference in demand for both Rugby Union and Rugby League.

Rugby Statistics UK: The Short Version

We have summed up our key findings from our research here. More in depth analysis and research can be found further on in the article.

  • Rugby is the 5th most popular sport in the UK, with 143,000 searches per month.
  • Rugby League is more popular than Rugby Union in terms of search volume with 44,300 searches per month and 23,900 searches per month respectively.
  • There are almost 20,000 monthly searches for “Rugby Ball” in the UK, indicating the number of active players.
  • Playing Rugby is the most popular in Wales and you are more than twice as likely to search for “Rugby Ball” in Wales than in any other home nation.

How Popular is Rugby in the UK in 2021?

We conducted a keyword analysis with KWFinder to discover the most popular sports in the UK based on search volume alone. We found that Rugby is the fifth most popular sport in the UK just behind Horse Racing and just ahead of Snooker. However, when compared to the likes of Football, Rugby is searched for almost 7.5 times less per month.

How Popular is Rugby in the UK in 2021?

Average Monthly searches for the top ten most popular sports in the UK. Analysis conducted with KWFinder.


In total, the term “Rugby” is searched 143,000 times per month on average in the UK with search volumes remaining relatively constant throughout the year. However, after undertaking a Google Trends analysis, we discovered that over the past 5 years, search volumes peaked in October 2019, coinciding with the Rugby World Cup.

Rugby League Vs Rugby Union: What is More Popular in the UK?

Is Rugby League or Rugby Union More Popular in the UK in 2021?

Average monthly search volume for “Rugby”, “Rugby League” and “Rugby Union” in the UK. Analysis conducted with KWFinder.


According to our keyword analysis, Rugby League is searched for 44,300 times a month on average whereas Rugby Union is only searched 23,900 times per month on average. Therefore, Rugby League is searched more in the UK making it the most popular of the two. Over the past 5 years, the search volumes have followed the same pattern for both League and Union, with League remaining the more popular of the two in the UK.

Rugby League Vs Rugby Union in the UK

Google Trends analysis comparing the search volumes for Rugby League (Red) and Rugby Union (Blue) over the past 5 years.

How Many People Play Rugby in the UK in 2021?

In the UK, we analysed numerous keywords that relate to specific intent of somebody who is playing or would like to play Rugby. These keywords are as follows: “Rugby Ball”, “Rugby Boots”, “Rugby Club”, and “Rugby Rules”. The search volumes for each term are displayed in the table below.


Search Term

Average Monthly Search Volume (UK)

Rugby Ball


Rugby Boots


Rugby Club


Rugby Rules



The term “Rugby Ball” indicates the intent of a player looking to purchase a ball to play with. This is the most popular term that we analysed, generating 19,700 searches per month on average highlighting the intent of the vast number of people looking to play Rugby in the UK. “Rugby Boots” has slightly less searches with only 16,100 on average per month in the UK. The intent for this term is similar to that of “Rugby Ball” indicating a player looking for sporting equipment to play with.


Searches for the keyword “Rugby Club” imply that the searcher is looking to join a team and play on a competitive level. This is backed up by the fact that the first result when searching for the term is a tool in the UK to find a Rugby club near you. This term generates an average of 7,300 searches per month in the UK, indicating the number of players looking for a Rugby club.


The intent behind the keyword “Rugby Rules” highlights the number of people looking to confirm the rules and learn more about the sport. Therefore this may not necessarily be people who are playing the sport. However, it could display beginners in the sport and the increasing audience.

Which Area of the UK Plays Rugby the Most?

To discover the answer to this question, we delved deeper into the search results for the term “Rugby Ball” as we felt that this displayed the most accurate intent for those choosing to play Rugby. We split this data up into each of the 4 home nations then calculated the number of searches for every 100,000 people in that country so that the data was proportional and fair. Therefore discovering where in the UK Rugby is played the most. Our findings are displayed below.



Total Number of searches

Number of Searches for every 100,000 People




Northern Ireland









Population Data obtained from Eurostat


Participation in Rugby is the most popular in Wales with an average of 63.78 searches for the term Rugby Ball per every 100,000 people in the country. This is more than double the number of the UK average which is at 29.56 searches per every 100,000 people. Even though the most searches for the term occurred in England, the high population meant that there is a lower number of searches proportional to the population in the country.

Summary: Rugby Statistics UK 2021 Roundup

In conclusion, Rugby remains one of the most popular sports in the UK with high popularity in Wales in particular. The preferred type of Rugby in the UK is Rugby League even though Rugby Union is still relatively popular. 


We hope that these rugby statistics have been helpful and helped you understand the scale of the popularity of the sport in the UK.


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