At first I thought the Scottish gentleman had a point:
It’s a numbers game. England has 170K registered senior players. Scotland 12K, Ireland 25K, Wales 23K, Italy 17K. Taking into consideration the number of players England have available from England , Tonga etc it must be a disappointment that they are not able to beat a team with Scotland ability by more than 20 points.
… but then I thought it through and found this at the Roar, a heavily pro-AFL site:
The study shows that while the top-playing nations in terms of participation in 2008 were the Six Nations and SANZAR Unions plus Argentina, this picture is changing, with Japan, Sri Lanka and the USA, all featuring in the top ten for 2010.
Japan was the top Asian market, ranked sixth with 122,598 registered players ahead of Sri Lanka (103,325), Argentina (103,000), Australia (86,952) and the USA (81,678). England (2,549,196), South Africa (632,184), France (273,084), Ireland (153,080) and New Zealand (137,835) topped the table for 2010 participation.
The report also shows that rugby is increasing its footprint within the USA, where a 350% participation increase has been experienced since 2004.
With raw stats converted to percentage of population, four nations have these *registered senior male players:
New Zealand 4.43m / 27726* = 0.63%
Australia 22.62m / 57766* = 0.26%
England 53,01m / 131399* = 0.25%
Scotland 5.30m / 11687* = 0.22%
If you cross the percentage of the population with overall numbers playing and also look where the cream of the nation is playing – in other games in three of those nations – then that puts it in perspective.
So yes, Scotland are a bit disadvantaged on those figures but not to the extent the commenter quoted at the top makes out. Seems to me there’s a certain amount of Deep-fried Mars Bar culture at work in there too.
And just why has the SRU stopped scouring the Borders area or the highlands for players? And what’s with the bizarre Johnson up there? They can claim it’s not their game but so can Australia and England – it doesn’t wash.
Dare I suggest it’s something to do with being Celtic, that as sportspeople, the Celts are world class musicians and singers? But then you’d have to include the Irish and Welsh in that and look at their ongoing success at times.
Dare I suggest there’s something in the underlying brutality of the Anglo-Saxon, his sheer bastardry? After all, who invented the game?