I notice the Sunday Start Times today picked up my story about Malcolm Gladwell’s theory (from Outliers) about the birth dates of top sports people and specifically how it relates to the All Blacks:

Early arrivals get jump start

The theory is that when age-group teams are selected those that are born just after the cut-off date have an advantage as they will be slightly older, and that advantage will then be compounded by the additional coaching and playing opportunities they have over the years, until they actually are better than others born later in the year.

And the data appears to back this up.

Here is a graph of the birth months of the 45 All Blacks from this year:


In this squad 55% of the players are born in the first four months of the year, where you would only expect this to be 33% if the dates were evenly distributed.

So, those of you who were born in the second half of the year now have a good explaination for why you never made it, while those of us born in the first half need to find another reason (my excuse: I was over the weight limit for my own age group when I was a kid, so I was playing against older kids anyway).

Looking at this, I was especially interested to see that there are five of the current squad born in December.

As if to prove that there is always an exception to every rule, there is even one player in the current squad born on the 31st of December.

If the theory is to be believed this is the single worst possible day for an aspiring rugby player to be born, as they will be the youngest candidate for every age-group team, constantly having to compete with kids who are older and therefor bigger and more co-ordinated etc.

So, for somebody born at the end of December to make it they must be an exceptional player.

That player: Richie McCaw.

Now that’s an outlier!


Kick-off at 3am

Why do we get up in the middle of the night to watch live sport?

A few weeks back Michael Barnett, the Chief Executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce was advising bosses to take it easy on staff who had been up all night watching the Americas Cup.

I guess we should plan for a massive national productivity dip in September in time for the Rugby World Cup.

Mark Cuban has a “hypothesis” which explains it:

“The greater the number of people that watch content simultaneously, the greater the emotional attachment of the viewer.”

So, if you follow this logic, the reason we like to watch is because everybody else is watching at the same time. And, of course, you can’t influence the outcome of the match unless you’re watching it live!

Although, not everybody agrees with Mr Cuban.

P.S. Wasn’t it great to see a smile on Richie McCaw’s face at the end of the game tonight. Long may it be so. :-)