Fun point about migration

And maybe the sad decline of Fiji and, to a lesser extent, Tonga as rugby powerhouses is not surprising. The sides these countries put out in this World Cup are third or fourth teams at best, the top players having long ago relocated to countries who can offer attractive wage packets.

There are eight Islanders in the All Black squad, seven in Wallaby colours, seven more representing America, another three turn out for Japan, Samoan Manu Tuilagi is England’s hottest property and Toby Faletau is an important asset for Wales.

In all, there are 120 players at this World Cup, 20 per cent of the playing population were born on the islands, or who consider themselves Pacific Islanders. And all that rugby talent from a combined population of around a million. Get the pick of them back to their countries of origin and this match might have been the final of Rugby World Cup 2011 rather than the washout it was.

Paul Ackford

I know we\’re not supposed to talk about \”race\” as it\’s not a concept which really translates into humans, we\’re all the same species. Perhaps \”genetic origin\” or \”genetic prevalence\” is better?

But perhaps it is correct that whatever that gene mix is in those Pacific Islands is the one that is best for the unique demands of rugby? In the same way that West African is for sprinting (and definitively not for swimming), North and East African for long distance running?

Great upper body strength plus explosive acceleration?

14 thoughts on “Fun point about migration”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    It is possible. And yet there used to be Jewish Heavy Weight champions of the world in Boxing.

    I think it is more likely that Pacific Islanders combine an aggressive warrior culture, tamed and channelled by Christianity into healthy out door sports with poverty and hence a lack of other options.

    That last bit is the main reason nice young Jewish boys prefer accounting or the law to boxing any more in my opinion. They are not poor. African-Americans and Hispanics are.

  2. “we’re not supposed to talk about “race” as it’s not a concept which really translates into humans”: on any other topic, sanctimonious experts in linguistics would tell us not to be prescriptivist, but rather descriptivist. In other words, work out what laymen mean when they say “race”. If that ain’t what biologists mean, tough titty.

  3. There are eight Islanders in the All Black squad…

    Hmm. Who are they?

    Kaino, okay. Toeava, yes. Muliaina, but he’s one of the older generation, probably in his last competition. So who else? Or is he counting people with funny names and flat brown faces as Islanders, even if they were born in NZ?

  4. So Much For Subtlety

    dearieme – “I suppose that’s why Andaman Islands negritos also appear so often in rugby?”

    I dunno. Aren’t they still spearing anyone who tries to teach them how to play?

    There is a racial (or perhaps diet) factor – the Japanese do not play rugby well. But that they play it at all shows something of the cultural factors at work. The Chinese are racially similar but they, by and large, do not. They do not have a warrior culture.

  5. Marginally on topic: Interesting factoid in Greg Lindsay’s book “Aerotropolis” that there are 4000 Tongans living in one small Dallas neighbourhood. That’s around 4% of the Tongan population. They are mostly airport workers and like the location because it makes travel home relatively easy.

    The local high school American football team is full of Tongans and they do a haka before each game (including the ‘white’ players!).

    I love that story.

    Does the US rugby team include any of these guys?

    (sorry, posted this in the wrong thread earlier)

  6. SMFS.
    If the warrior culture is an important factor in a nation adopting Rugby surely some of the best players in the world would be Sikhs, Pathans and Gurkhas ? Instead they seem to prefer cricket, the first two at least, although, admittedly, cricket is a lot more warlike than most people who have a cliched view of the game imagine.

  7. So Much For Subtlety

    Thornavis – “If the warrior culture is an important factor in a nation adopting Rugby surely some of the best players in the world would be Sikhs, Pathans and Gurkhas ?”

    My experience of people involved in boxing is that South Asians don’t mind dishing it out, but they have a profound objection to taking it. I always assume this is largely prejudice, but there may be something to it.

    Or, alternatively, a different set of missionaries reached the South Pacific.

  8. I know we’re not supposed to talk about “race” as it’s not a concept which really translates into humans, we’re all the same species.

    Dogs are all the same species.

  9. Instead they seem to prefer cricket, the first two at least, although, admittedly, cricket is a lot more warlike than most people who have a cliched view of the game imagine.

    Arthur Grimble described early attempts to introduce cricket to the Pacific Islands in A Pattern of Islands. The results were not pretty.

  10. Apparently the reason that cricket is no longer utterly dominated by West Indies fast bowlers is that they’re all getting signed up by US baseball teams.

  11. Tracy W, that and the general drift away from cricket in the West indies to US oriented sports, is part of the reason but maladministration is at least as big a reason.
    Tim Newman. Interestingly enough there’s an article on cricket in Samoa in this month’s Wisden Cricketer magazine, it would be fair to say that the game has not developed in quite the same way as the rest of the world, it’s well worth reading.

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