|The 20 RWC 2011 Nations’ Player Numbers|
Now that all the teams have arrived, I thought I would take a look at just which country has the largest player base and what percentage of those players are‘Senior Males’. These figures are from the IRB website and the diagram works thus: The large circle for each nation is the Total Number of Registered Rugby Players (TRP) in that country .... that's men, women, boys and girls. These are all in proportion to each other. Each large circle has a smaller circle inside it, again in proprtion, that represents how many of those players are Senior Males (SM).
Clearly, it does not break this down further into which players are paid professionals ... but you could infer that all paid pros have to start as Senior Males at some stage.
Those countries that have a high percentage for the inner circle, does it indicate that they are struggling with low overall numbers, or that they in fact make good use of slim resources. Scotland for instance has a very small pool of professionals and clubs to choose from, yet arguably, remains competitive internationally. Is it because you can fit them all in a room that they know what is going on?
Australia and the US also have player numbers smaller than us, yet their SM components both tip 40% or more ... are these the sleeping giants where participants in the game are more serious and focussed depsite being in a crowded sporting market?
And what about Japan? Its TRP is up there with much higher ranked nations, as its SM (43.2%) core ... will the RWC there in 2019 really contribute the growth of the game there and in wider in Asia, or is it simply a big niche sport in a population of 127 million people.
As for New Zealand, well we do pretty well for our size. We may be the dominant and best performing international side, but you can see we are comfortably in the pack when it comes to player numbers, both TRP and SM. Looking at the graphic, we are average – looking at the results (RWC aside) we are anything but.
The thing that really stand out for discussion; if you look at this like it is a picture of a solar system ... look at the dying Red Dwarf! England have 2.5 million registered rugby players in a country with a population of 52 million people. Where the hell do they all go when they turn 18?!
What do you think? Any surprises?
NB: The IRB holds no data Argentina.