Wednesday, 7 September 2011

International Player Numbers

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.


Anonymous said...

They play football. You could argue (and I'm not saying I am) that in England, rugby union is predominately played in posh schools - football is played everywhere.

I'm not surprised by USA - they play sport to win and not for fun - but I am by France. I didn't know that such a high percentage took it so seriously.

Bring it on!

Ferdy said...

Amazing graphic Slugso. I hate to use the term 'punching above our weight' but I think it's apt here.

Gagger said...

Awesome, but the country most clearly punching above it's weight is the GOLD!

Anonymous said...

Where's Argentina?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, just noticed you didn't have the statistics.....

sicklittlemonkey said...

These graphs are misleading. The _diameter_ of the inner circles is correct for a linear comparison of the values, e.g. bar charts, but the _area_ of the inner circles is not the given percentage of the outer circles.

This is quite misleading as it misrepresents the scale exponentially. For instance the "France" outer circle is around 250 pixels in diameter. The inner circle should not be 88 pixels in diameter as shown but 148 (70% greater) if the inner circle is to have 35% of the area.

Anonymous said...

Sicklittlemonkey - please do your own stats then. It sounds like you are a repressed mathematician.

sicklittlemonkey said...

Just trying to help. The charts look very nice, but sports fans like their stats and so I presume that Ferdy and Slugso would like their stats to be correct - if not this time then next time.

After all, Slugso wrote an in-depth post analyzing what's displayed, but unfortunately all of the inner circles are not "in proportion" and should be considerably larger.

Anyway, busy at work for 2 more hours then off for a walk down to the wharf. Go the AB's!

slugso said...

sicklittlemonkey thanks for your comments, but the inner circles are actually proportionally scaled against the larger cirlces they sit inside, by the percentage referred to.

So France's big circle @ 35.1% size IS the inner circle etc etc

The relationship between all the inner circles is not linear. Its really only indicative anyway ... no one actually believes England have 2.5 million players, but they do have way more than anyone else.

Christian Biggins said...

I thought I'd look at the numbers for Australias Rugby League and AFL codes which are far more popular;

AFL Registered players: 693,052
Rugby League: 466,182

*sigh* If we didnt have those two games we'd potentially have another million people!!!! :) :) ;)

sicklittlemonkey said...

Thanks for responding Slugso, but here's an example of someone at JP Morgan making the same mistake:

Even visually in your head (or in Paint etc) you can copy and paste France's inner circle to the top, bottom, left and right of the original - more than 5 copies will fit inside the outer circle. So at a glance you can tell it's less than 1/3 (33%). Alternatively if the circles were pie charts you can imagine how big a 35% slice would be.

Anyway, I think it's misleading to say in the article that "These are all in proportion to each other". I'd like to see a more accurate version of the chart if you have time in between all this rugby. ;-)

slugso said...

Dude, its an illustrative infographic! Done by a rugby obssessed loser! And JP Morgan - I don't have time for those amateurs. Divide any of each countries figures by each other, both ways and scale by that % or factor ... voila! Correct.

Its not a pie chart, so it does not show '1/3 of the area'.

There's a RWC on that I have to watch, bye bye.

Anyway, you are wrong, I'm right .. its my blog ;-p

John Birch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RedYeti said...

I think there are a couple of reasons for England's low RM percentage

1) Rugby is enforced at school level all over the country. The vast majority of these players will stop playing once they are out of that environment. I'm a good example of this: obsessed about the sport and first team school player my entire life; as soon as I got to uni I pretty much stopped playing altogether, and can't imagine I'm going to join an adult club afterwards

2) England has a huge women's rugby scene (especially at universities). We're second best in the world (losing as usual to NZ) in the women's game. I assume the overall player number takes these females into account, and that they are then lost for the registered male statistic

RedYeti said...

John the inner circle is based on the percentage of registered adult males versus the overall player base I think. So even if we have more RMs than other countries, the circle is smaller as we have less relative to our huge player base. I tried to explain why this might be above

John Birch said...

Sorry - deleted my initial comment when I realised someone else had answered it.

Have to say that player number data is amazingly dodgy - not least because every country produces data in different ways.

RFU's data - which I've looked at a fair amount - is amazingly questionable, based as it is on a player database where there is no incentive to remove players when they cease to play. My own son stopped playing when he was 8, but was still on the RFU's player database six years later - he may still be there now!

John Birch said...

RedYeti - when you look into the England data it really is very questionable indeed.

If you look at the data on the IRB website most of the 2.5 million players in England are children - and almost all (about 2.3 million) are boys.

But there are only about 10 million children in England. Take away the girls and the under 7s this means that the RFU claim that more than half of all boys in England play rugby. Even if you count schoolboy players in that, this is clearly nonsense.

Oh and you are right that there should be a lot of women players in England - but RFU only say there 5,000 - fewer than in the USA or France.

Lies, damned lies, and RFU player data...

longarmofthelaw said...

The diameters are in proportion, the areas are not( due to area = pie r squared), you can see from the graphic for Russia that the small circle is not 25% of the bigger circle.
Sicklittlemonkey wins!!
flawless victory

awesome idea though!

sicklittlemonkey said...

Hah, thanks longarmofthelaw - at least someone gets it! ;-)

Here's a quick stab at a corrected version though it's not as pretty as Slugso's.


Vignette said...

Just a remark: at first sight, on ruggerblogger chart the proportiĆ ons are made on circles radius length.
For instance for France the big radius is three times bigger than the small one...
circle area is Pi*Radius^2, the "mistake" (wich is definitively not a mistake)seems to be here: we lose the "good" proportions because of the square...but the chart continues to give a good representation of reality (and in a really nice way).

Je pense qu'un peu de maths ne fait jamais de mal...mais je peux aussi toujours me tromper ;)

Well done ruggerblogger, I LOVE this kind of charts


Vignette said...

ok, I think I have been late on this ;)

I do agree with longarmofthelaw so :)




sicklittlemonkey said...

@Vignette: I'm glad you agree with longarmofthelaw, otherwise according to the original chart you would mistakenly believe that France has more senior male players than England, which is not true.

Surely it's better to know that the great French team comes from a smaller pool of players than England! ;-)

(I was talking to some friendly French fans on Friday night. Hopefully NZ will play France later in the RWC. Go les Blues!)

Of course, as others point out, perhaps not all of this data is accurate. But we have to work with what we've got.