SportWeird Stuff

North vs South: Mapping Where Most of Britain’s Sports Stars Hail From

posted by Chris Valentine

There is often a great deal of debate between sports fans as to which regions within the country are producing the best sports players and athletes. Much of this debate is influenced by bias and the location of those involved in the argument often sways their opinion. People tend to take great pride in where they come from and also when an individual from close to where they originate from succeeds at the highest level in a given sporting discipline.

A recent article on the Betway blog examined which areas of Britain are currently best represented when it comes to producing sports stars currently performing at the highest level, for a selection of the most popular sports in the country.

Here are some of the noticeable findings…


England were the only team from the British nations to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and one noticeable trend was that the majority of their squad was made up by players from the north of the country. In fact, 15 of the 23 players who travelled to Russia for the World Cup can consider themselves northerners. This includes some of the key players in the team, such as Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford.

A look at the infographic above shows 33 of the 107 sports stars included in the study hailed from the north, with half of them included in the England World Cup squad. Therefore, it is possible to state based on this evidence that the north is producing better quality footballers than the south.

However, Wales may have something to say about that and there is one man in their football team who has won more major titles than anyone in the England squad. His name is Gareth Bale and the Real Madrid man has won four Champions League titles, which is a phenomenal achievement. In terms of quality, the north does not have a player to match Bale but the overall productivity of the north in terms of producing a host of top players cannot be questioned.

However, if we look at two more of the most popular sports in the United Kingdom, things take a turn towards the south of the country.


Analysing the infographic, we can see the bulk of the rugby players hail from the south and this is backed up by the squad selection of the England rugby team. As of 2nd October 2018, 13 of the 18 players to be selected in the England squad who have 10 caps or more are from the south of the UK. Several of these players were born or raised in London, with only George Ford and Owen Farrell from northern England.


More of the current top British golfers come from the south compared to the north


It becomes clear when looking at the infographic that the south is also producing the biggest number of top golfers. At the time of writing, 10 of the top 15 British and Irish players in the official golf world rankings are from the south of the United Kingdom. Justin Rose, Tyrell Hatton and Ian Poulter, who were all involved in Europe’s success at the 2018 Ryder Cup are from the south east. Rory McIlroy is from Northern Ireland while Matthew Fitzpatrick and Lee Westwood are from northern England.


Interestingly, snooker is the only major televised sport where there is not one player from the north in the top ten British players in the world rankings at the time of writing. Mark Selby of Leicester and Ronnie O’Sullivan of Stourbridge are two of the top three snooker players in the world with Mark Williams and Mark Allen representing Wales and Northern Ireland respectively.


The current England cricket team offers a more balanced perspective with a good representation of players from the north and south of the country. Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and James Anderson are from the north with Dawid Malan, Ollie Pope and Jamie Porter from the south. Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad and Sam Curran are all from the midlands and Eoin Morgan, the One Day International captain is from Dublin, Ireland.

In conclusion, the infographic shows more of Britain’s top sports stars hail from the south. A total of 47 of the 107 sports starts included in the study were from the south, with the north providing 33 and the midlands 15.

However, that does not tell the whole story and while the south may be producing more of Britain’s current sports stars, the north could argue they have more quality in specific sports. It’s an interesting debate and one which is sure to continue in the future.

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