Scotland is Rugby's biggest poacher - study.

  • To see original article including charts/graphs - link-

    Scotland is the biggest poacher of foreign-born rugby talent.

    Oft-maligned New Zealand ranks below the entire British Isles, Ireland, Italy and even Australia when it comes to the number of foreign-born players trundled out since the game went professional in 1996.

    Those are the findings of Dr Hautahi Kingi, a US-based Kiwi economist and statistician who has analysed the birth places of nearly every player to have debuted since 1996 for a top 10 ranked rugby nation.

    Kingi shared his findings – which debunk many of the long-held preconceptions around player ‘poaching’ in international rugby – with Newsroom.

    His full analysis can be found here on his blog

    His findings include:
    •Of the 176 players who have debuted for Scotland since 1996, an incredible 79 (44.9 percent) were born outside of Scotland.
    •Italy (59/134) has the next highest number of foreign-born players, followed by England (44), then Ireland and Australia, tied on 43.
    •New Zealand has fielded just 29 foreign-born debutants out of a total of 196 in the professional era.
    •Argentina has capped the most debutants since 1996 (294), but still has the lowest number of foreigners (4).
    •In a rare case of South Africa being able to claim a moral high ground, the Springboks have fielded just 10 foreign debutants out of 210 over the period analysed.

    Kingi’s analysis also debunks the myth that New Zealand is a rapacious plunderer of Pacific Island talent.

    New Zealand does in fact field more Pacific Island-born players than any other top 10 nation (excluding the Pacific Nations themselves, obviously).

    Since 1996, just three nations - New Zealand (21), Australia (13) and England (4) - have debuted more than two players born in either Samoa, Tonga or Fiji. But comparing those numbers with Pacific population bases in each country tells a different story, as Dr Kingi explains.

    “2.8 percent of the New Zealand population were born in the Pacific Islands, compared to just 0.5 percent in Australia and less than 0.1 percent in England,” Kingi notes. “Pacific athletes are wonderful rugby players, and it is unsurprising that they are over-represented in all these teams. However, the extent to which they are over-represented differs markedly across teams. While New Zealand has four times more Pacific born players than would be expected given the population, Australia has 16 times more, and England a whopping 162 times more.”

    Fascinatingly, Kingi’s dataset even speaks to the effectiveness of foreign-born players (as points scorers, at least) versus native players.

    Overall, foreigners score more tries than their native counterparts. The foreign-born All Blacks, for example, average 6.1 tries per player while New Zealand native All Blacks average 4.8. That trend holds up for seven of the 10 countries analysed. The most notable exception is England, whose foreign recruits average just 1.5 tries compared to the 3.1 tries of home-grown players. England’s foreigners also don’t tend to last, with the foreigners playing just 13.8 matches each on average compared to 21.4 matches for native players. That ratio is by far and away the lowest of the data set. In Wales, for example, foreigners actually play more matches (24.2) than Welsh-born players (23.3).

    Those figures appear to raise the question as to the effectiveness of England’s foreign recruitment.

    One finding that won’t shock anyone is that New Zealand is confirmed as the largest exporter of international rugby talent.

    Kingi uncovered 227 New Zealanders who have played for another country since 1996. The next largest exporter is England with 95 players. Samoa, Tonga and Fiji have together contributed 63 players to top 10 nations.

    “Notable absences include Scotland, Ireland and Wales, which have provided fewer than seven players each to other countries, despite having had the services of 162 foreign-born players combined,” Kingi notes.

    When it comes to international rugby, as the below graph demonstrates, New Zealand is very much a giver rather than a taker.

  • Not really sure it sheds too much light on things, the study would really need to go deeper into how these overseas players acquire their eligibility. Sample sizes for things like points per import player are totally dependent on one or two random players - as he points out with O'Gara. If a 1995 cut off was chosen and Mehrts is included it would seem like import players outscore domestic players for the ABs also.

    Tough to say Scotland is 'poaching' from England given they aren't sovereign countries and have no significant geographic or economic boundaries. Along similar lines tough to say that many of the Samoan players of the 90's and early 00's (who make up a bulk of our import) were poached given they were born to parents who had or were entitled to NZ citizenship, who themselves were born in NZ.

    Ironically our success at exporting in the past 20 years will likely result in our first French and Japanese born ABs in the next decade or so if the current trends of offspring being capped continue.

  • I am just relieved NZ is a 'giver' and not a 'taker'.

  • Scotland, Ireland and England have all mined their diaspora, some more than others of course. Not sure how studies like this really tell the whole picture.

    To have a bit more meaning they probably need to look at how a player has qualified for a country. Residency or ancestry.

  • Was discussing this elsewhere yesterday and looked at the 44 foreign born England players he references by country, 1996 to present day. As a fairly crude measure, the ones in bold came over on or after the age of 18 (to the best of my knowledge), in most cases to play pro rugby. Some of them (Te'o, most of the Saffers) will also qualify through family

    Germany (Paul Hill, Matt Kvesic, Tom Johnson, Lee Dickson, Phil Christophers)
    Hong Kong (Charlie Sharples)
    Australia (Jack Clifford, Joe Simpson, David Paice, Billy Vunipola)
    Nigeria (Adedayo Adebayo, Ayoola Erinle)
    Kenya (Simon Shaw)
    UAE (Nick Greenstock)
    Canada (Kevin Yates))
    Wales (Dorian West)
    South Africa (Steve White-Cooper, Fraser Waters, Michael Horak, Stuart Abbott, Matt Stevens, Hendre Fourie, Mouritz Botha, Brad Barritt)
    New Zealand (Henry Paul, Mark van Gisbergen, Perry Freshwater, Riki Flutey, Shontayne Hape, Thomas Waldrom, Teimana Harrison, Ben Te'o, Mako Vunipola, Dylan Hartley)
    Scotland (Geoff Appleford)
    Tonga (Lesley Vainikolo)
    Wales (Jason Hobson)
    St Lucia (Delon Armitage, Steffon Armitage, Marland Yarde)
    USA (Alex Corbisiero)
    Samoa (Manu Tuilagi)
    Fiji (Semesa Rokoduguni, Nathan Hughes)

    Basically most of our proper poaching is from NZ or SA

  • Shouldn't Manu be bolded since he was illegal until after he was 18. 🎣

  • Nah, If he's in the country, he's fine with me. They're my rules....

  • @MN5 will have something to say about this oh..

  • Using the method above. Since 1996, those born overseas who played for NZ (but moved at 18 or over).

    Is quite small by my count. Just 5

    Plus scholarship boys who moved before 18, but who's IRB eligibility didn't start ticking over until over 18 (which same rules would also have applied to Hartley and Tuilagi if anyone cared enough to check).

    Another 7:
    Laulala C
    Laulala N

  • @rotated said in Scotland is Rugby's biggest poacher - study.:

    Tough to say Scotland is 'poaching' from England given they aren't sovereign countries and have no significant geographic or economic boundaries.

    This. Flawed study IMHO.

    For example, a number of the Welsh 'overseas' players 'poached' from England had played age grade rugby for Wales. Some were even sons of former Welsh internationals.

  • Not necessarily flawed data wise (for the most part), but certainly an unnecessary use of the direct link to poaching when the data purely looks at birthplace.

    England, for example, can hardly be accused of poaching the cream of Germany rugby. They were just forces kids.

    It's interesting all the same.

  • Birthplace throws up strange ones like Brad Thorn. Yes he was born in NZ - but the NZ rugby development system had less to do with developing him into a professional rugby player than any AB in the past 20 years.

    His case made even more dubious by the fact the represented Australia in league before and during his AB career and settled back in Australia as soon as his AB stint was over (sans Highlanders stint).

    At least in the case all those other guys they played in college/development/club system for a number of years before playing professionally - and almost all settled in NZ or maintain strong ties there.

  • @Margin_Walker said in Scotland is Rugby's biggest poacher - study.:

    Not necessarily flawed data wise (for the most part), but certainly an unnecessary use of the direct link to poaching when the data purely looks at birthplace.

    Hmmm ...

    Pretty much what we've been saying for 20 years. You've got to comsider context and all factors.

  • i notice the study doent take in the islands.seem to remember Samoa had the most players born out of there country at at least one world cup

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